Was coping stone dropped or did it fall on policewoman?

The question was raised on Slugger O Toole initially whether the coping stone which hit the young female police officer at the Ardoyne shops in North Belfast had been dropped by a rioter or had fallen as a result of water canon pressure.

I was not the author of the original question but when this started to become thematic I turned my attention to this matter.

A senior police officer went on the Nolan Show and spoke of “murderous intent” and claimed also to know the identity of a rioter wearing a mask.

At no point was ACC Mc Causland asked if the coping stone had fallen or been dropped from a height.

In a post on Slugger I drew attention to the question as raised above. The post carried the headline ‘True or false?’

There has been a huge volume of traffic on this matter and I have absorbed some abuse to which I have become well accustomed as I sought out the truth down the years.

Following the meeting with Peter Robinson and Martin Mc Guinness Chief Constable Matt Baggott was more circumspect when asked about the capacity to bring someone before the courts arising from the injury to the female officer. He said “now we move into the arrest and justice phase. We will put whatever resources we need into bringing them before the courts. We know the identity of many of them really. We are working methodically through that. We’re gathering the evidence.”

New information has now emerged which brings greater lucidity to the lack of certainty about how exactly the coping stone hit the policewoman.

The buildings are not in pristine condition.
Earlier the police had an awareness that some of the coping stones had been loosened.

Youths had been taking cover inside the coping stones on the rooftops possibly to avoid the force of the water canon or to obviate detection.

There are aerial shots to show this. The PSNI claim to have the name of one person on the roof around the time that the police officer was injured.
The police has also confirmed that water canon had been directed at rioters on the rooftops.

Security insiders know that they need more information to prove the coping stone was physically dropped by a rioter resulting in the injury to the female officer.

A senior security source told me “there is nothing we can say with certainty until the investigation is more advanced.”

This direct quote leaves open the possibility that either case is possible that the coping stone gave way because it and others had been loosened and possibly disturbed with the force of the water canon or else a rioter literally dropped the coping stone from a height.

Proving all of this necessitates an evidential sequence to stand up to cross examination and scrutiny. This is not a black or white matter.

The good news is that the young female officer has no broken bones but has sustained tissue bruising and is destined to make a full recovery. Eamonn Mallie

  • West Sider

    Good news about the officer.

    I would never have you down as naive, Eamonn, but a police chief being circumspect about assigning guilt is a professional necessity – as you well know – before this case reaches the courts.

    He can’t possible prejudice a trial.

    Shouldn’t you have made that clear in your blog?

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Glad to hear the young woman is recovering.

  • Lionel Hutz

    Take nothing at face value. The police have an unnerving habit of reactionary commentary and it is right to look into this. The worst thing the policecould do is have on public record that a policewoman was injured by a rioter if the rioters know differently. That will just fuel the fire.

    On a side note Eamonn, I like Reading your blogs but is it really neccessary to paint youself assome sort of oppressed crusader?

  • RepublicanStones

    I think this incident demonstrates the dog whistle some of us are guilty of. If its themmuns doing the rioting then some of us rush to assume it was thrown, if its usun’s then it was the water cannons fault. Having looked at the sky footage, its unclear, but I think we should rename this stone – Pavlov’s Coping Stone !

  • Fearglic

    It’s always a complete mystery to me to see such vehemence and harmful intent when viewing riot scenes that hardly ever result in anyone being killed. I believe that people involved do sincerely want to kill and others just enjoy the action. Battles like the Battle of the Boyne had the same emotions and intentions of those involved in the Ardoyne battles. Many were killed in THAT “skirmish” in the Boyne Valley. Of all the history of the riots in Belfast and Ireland if anyone died it’s usually the rioter at the hands of a strongly armoured police force.

  • Stephen Blacker

    This link (taken from another blogger) Shows the moment when the coping slab was pushed off the wall onto the police woman below.

    It is very disappointing that Eamonn Mallie has posted this disgraceful misinformed story, apart from the fact that Sharon O’Neill from UTV saw what happened the force of the water cannon would have pushed the coping in the direction of the roof rather than the police on the street below.

  • Stephen Blacker

    Sorry the link I posted did not work. This is the link taken from the threat on Slugger “Shoot for thrills”


  • Cynic

    The UTV link clearly shows figures behind the walls on the roof and its noticeable that when the policewoman is knocked down there is no water jet near her – if there was it would be cascading down around her.

    Furthermore, even after she is knocked down and the clip shows the water jets pointing on up Crumlin road, coping stones are still being pushed down on top of her and the police trying to rescue her

  • Dixie

    Nonsense in all counts. The youth on the roof is clearly no where near the parapet.

    The water hose is hitting the exact spot where the coping stone is dislodged, when it is dislodged and remains there as the larger piece falls.

    After she is hit and in the slow-motion shot of the slab falling you can clearly see the water spray around it.

    The water jets are not pointing up the Crumlin Road even as she is pulled away.

    You can clearly see it coming down and hitting the landrover shaking it as it goes over it while she is being pulled away.

    You can only see what you want to see and I’m sure someone has the capability to slow it down in order to see what really happened.

  • RepublicanStones

    Dixie whilst I agree the UTV footage is inconclusive, and the angle of fall of the masonry is conducive to having been ripped away by the water cannon (and strangley UTV claim they continued to throw stuff ontop of her whilst strangely holding the camera just low enough to be incapable of confirming this) …..but those buchaills weren’t up there to paint watercolours.

  • Stephen Blacker

    It is obvious that people see what they want to see!

  • joeCanuck

    I have said before, this is all bullshit. If there had been no riot, there would have been no water cannon and no injuries. Others have countered that if there had been no march, there would have been no riot. The March was approved like it or not (and I don’t like it). The march was legal, the physical opposition to it (sit down) was illegal, the rioting was illegal, the use of countermeasures such as the use of water cannon was legal.
    Live with it; lack of understanding and refusal to accept that everything doesn’t always go your way will lead us back to where the majority of us do not want to go. My understanding is that the Residents held a dignified protest in the morning, which is to be commended, and outsiders came in to cause mayhem in the evening.

  • Dixie

    RepublicanStones you are about what UTV showed and failed to show which is interesting just as it is interesting that we saw aerial footage of the riots while they showed nothing of the youths on the roof while the police woman was hit by the coping stone.

    Also if you view the footage again you’ll see the masonry is dislodged at the exact moment that both streams of water hit the same spot and that’s where the coping stone/stones were dislodged and fell.

    You’re right the buchaills weren’t up there for artistic reasons but does it excuse hitting someone with an attempted murder rap for rioting?

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Yes that made me smile too.
    But I think it was a bad choice of words on Mr Mallies part rather than self regard.
    My favourite journalist ……the flambouyant Peter Spencer

    “The death of journalists is not, as conventionally supposed, alchohol, but self importance. On that basis I should at least survive my career. If I don’t drink too much”

    source: TVnewsroom.
    Id post a link but I dont do links.

  • Dixie

    You are correct joeCanuck I don’t want to go there either, but you must agree that those who once led us there have made one hell of a good living out of it.

    It must be nearly time they were heading off to Portugal and Donegal?

  • Stephen Blacker


    Should have gone to specsavers! “A murder rap” no chance, 7 lifted last year with only 4 convictions, these men are laughing.

  • a contender for most out-of-context response of the year thus far?

  • Oracle

    The Caps (finishing stones Copeing stones) are lifted when both water cannon jets move towards each other.

    I wasn’t sure earlier because it was much to fast to be conclusive, however with the added advantage of a slowed version of the heavily linked video it is crystal clear that the water cannon causes the initial seperation of the cap from the wall and the water cannon jet furtherest away moving back towards the camera dislodges the Cap which falls on the officer.
    the rest of the loosened masonry follows as both cannons try to give cover support for the injured officer.

    the problem arises when the cannons try to just skim the edge of the roof to get a low enough angle to get a hit on the protestors on the roof standing too far back or ducked down.

  • Oracle


    you stated…. “My understanding is that the Residents held a dignified protest in the morning, which is to be commended”

    but Joe….. this protest was illegal….. thus according to your thinking doing illegal things is commendable

  • Stephen Blacker

    What a load of shit. I guess there is no arguing with selective vision.

  • observer

    Truly shocking that the blogger in question seems to think the most important part of 3 nights of mayhem where the goal was clearly the murder of a police officer, is to somehow blame the police themselves for the worst incident, and to obsess about it. Jesus wept.

  • not again..

    It’s hardly jfk.
    Two weak minded juvenile pawns were corralled into the area and used to do the bidding of fossilized has-beens who were probably dwelling in the back ground somewhere, relishing the violence from a safe distance , drooling over the prospect of a jack pot result – a child. victim / martyr. ding..ding..ding.

    Catch the orchestraters and imprison them – they obviously pose a tangible risk to children .

  • joeCanuck

    No, Oracle. I understand that the protest in the morning was with placards on the sidewalk, and was legal.

  • joeCanuck

    I sympathize with your feelings, Dixie, knowing that you suffered too. But it was ever thus. The folks you refer to are not any different from others who sold their principles ( even though their actions were wrong to me) in order to benefit from the good life.

  • Oracle

    Blacker why don’t you just catch yourself on and go and look at any of the links on the “true or false thread by E.M”

    then bother your arse to phone loads of people in the hpe of finding one with the geek skills to slow the image down on a computer like some of us did….


    But sure it’s obvious you had your mind made up before you even saw a video…… kinda nails you to a mast!



  • joeCanuck

    Stop shouting, Oracle; it’s generally considered to be rude and bad form. We understand your view.

  • stranger

    I don’t see why its an unimportant question. It could be the difference between someone getting charged with riotous behaviour and attempted murder.

    Yes, it is wrong to stand on a roof throwing stones, but its also wrong to accuse them of something they didn’t do.

  • Lionel Hutz

    That’s nonsense observer. Many mindless “youths” will riot. To somehow suggest they are tantomount to the joint enterprise of murder is stretching it. I have no doubt that that a great many kids were throwing stones at the “pigs” but if someone was to suggest killing a police officer, I’m sure most of these children would shit themselves

  • Dixie3057

    The question I want to ask; what happened to the influences of Gerry Kelly/Adams & co in respect of trying to stop the rioters ? Furthermore, where were all the parents of these allegedly 8 to 14 year old’s that were rioting, have parents no control over their children now ? The same parents would have been in uproar if a plastic bullet had hit one of these children.
    I watched the footage on TV of the children/youths who were throwing stones at the train in Lurgan and seemingly trying to set the train on fire, what was more galling was the group of “grownups” watching them and not making an effort to stop them.

  • lover not a fighter

    If thats the only evidence of a rioter dropping this particular coping stone then I cannot see any likelihood of a conviction on this evidence.

    It certainly could have been the water that dislodged this particular stone.

    The PSNI need to upgrade their tactics if this is one of their regular options.

    One way or another the police woman was lucky not to be killed.

    Fighting is still a big attration for some on both sides but as I am a Lover I cannot see the allure !

  • Dixie

    As far as I know you were the one who initially raised doubts about who threw what. Your comment on Slugger was the first I had heard or read. I want to thank you for that because there was talk of serious charges being bought. I hope the ‘seriousness’ of the charge has dissipated and the crime will be seen in the same light of the riot as a whole.

  • What link are you using to see this in such clarity? Haven’t been ablle to find something that makes the case so clearly.

  • Not wanting to incur the wrath of journalistic indignity, but who did ‘author’ the original question? A link would be useful, or a steer to the paper or blog. In perspective, this is one injury (serious as it is) over nights of rioting and thuggery across the country that has left dozens injured, including a number of shotgun wounds, homes burned and people in fear. Here we have had a raft of posts from one person on this one incident as if his journalistic life depended on being able to defend and propogate this one point from a single ‘source’.

    This is the last comment on this subject as it is simply pedantic, distractive and a sideshow in the bigger picture.

  • Cynic


    You cant see it as you aren’t wearing the green tinted glasses

  • Cynic

    You clearly don’t know Ardoyne and North Belfast – on both sides of the divide.

    And do you think that the youths dropping petrol bombs and breeze blocks on the heads of (as you so eloquently put it) the ‘pigs’ are such wilting flowers and don’t realise that that too is likely to seriously injure or kill police officers?

  • Cynic

    Possibly some of those were the parents.

  • Cynic

    Yes, where has Mark gone?

  • Neil

    I would that if the cops have ariel footage they’ll easily be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that there was a rioter or rioters pushing the cap at or around the time the cap fell on the cop. If it happened like that.

    If not the same ariel footage will exonorate the rioter(s) in question of attempted murder. So, from a slightly different point of view I agree with Dissenter above. The courts should have no problem sorting it out, and if the only evidence they have is the news footage we’ve seen there will be no case.

  • Anon

    The Water Cannon has in built cameras, so I am told, to record the area being hit by the water at all times and also has a PTZ camera on a mast on the rear to focus on certain areas.

  • Oracle


    I was using all three videos of the same scene, with apparently different edits or angles.

    But the one posted by Dixie and others on the true or false thread is best


    Exactly 24secs in two of the water jets come together crisscross forcing vertical jets of water…. at that moment the masonery lifts and rides the jets.

    Also just for information purposes for looney tunes thinking someone threw the slab, the second UTV video linked by Stephen Blacker


    30-33 secs in (just a few secs in but it says 30 on bottom bar) the slab that comes down would take some lifting anyone who has ever lift off the ground a back yard 3×2 paving slab will know what i mean

    now ask yourself this if someone was struggling across the roof with this slab
    1) don’t you think he’d have been seen on the videos
    2) don’t ya think those water cannon would have blown him half way down Brompton park

    it could be helped on its way by a foot or a shove and then letting the laws of physics ride the jets fro directional change ect ect.. but we would need overhead arial footage to prove that

  • When in a hole stop digging

  • “A senior police officer went on the Nolan Show and spoke of “murderous intent” and claimed also to know the identity of a rioter wearing a mask. At no point was ACC Mc Causland asked if the coping stone had fallen or been dropped from a height.”

    Was the ACC asked? No. Did he make a categoric statement about what happened? Yes.

    On the Nolan show 14/07/10 (50.24 min – 50.45 min) ACC McCausland said the following concerning the officer injured by the masonry.

    “The individual that dropped the block on Samantha as she was advancing made off across the roof. That individual has been identified. Take it from me he can now sit and worry wherever he is in Northern Ireland. We will be coming for him.”


  • First of great news about the female officer.

    Eamonn this is a very BIG question and it could be true.

    I wonder when you are speaking to the police could you get them to confirm or deny that the watercannons are working on REDUCED power as to not injury rioters ?

  • This is indeed an interesting question as to whether the coping was thrown or dislodged. Having slowed down the video and viewed it a number of time it could be seen that the person hiding behind the coping pushed them off but it could also have been dislodged by the water cannons as well. It is too difficult to tell without further evidence.

    More importantly the officer is alive and will make a full recovery. My issue here is that I would hope this story does not become something that over shadows the fact that people were rioting for three days straight, causing significant damage to property, injuring people, costing us millions and putting Northern Ireland at the top of the news for all the wrong reasons.

    The fact is that these youths should not have been up there bricking police officers. The police responded with great restraint and water cannons are the logical alternative. These people should be arrested and charged for riotous behaviour, and if evidence comes to light that the masonry was thrown, relevant charges should be pressed. At the end of the day the onus is on the police and prosecution service to prove that the coping was thrown and a lot of evidence must be brought to light. Rather than argue and accuse the police of trying to stitch someone up which no doubt could be the case as this story receives more public attention, we should let the legal system take its course. The legal system here does, in the end go in the favour of the accused as they must be proven guilty.

    Also, it is good to see that these sorts of incidents are brought to public attention and debated in a public forum such as this. Lets not turn it into a someone vs someone argument but rather do our best to examine the facts as they stand. And again, lets hope that the people involved in all the trouble over the last few nights are brought to justice and that our government, the orange order and everyone else involved can see sense and come up with a compromise and solution for future marches.

  • Stephen Blacker


    It seems to me you are the one who has made up your mind and see what you want to see. The coping block is lifted from the roof side and tipped onto the Police officer and a hand can be seen pulling back after this.

    As regards someone being charged with attempted murder that is a joke. The person who pushed the coping off did so blindly and got a “lucky hit” I hope you never handed over any money to those people with “geek skills” because their equipment is faulty.

  • bb

    Neither the UTV or Sky video actually shows the moment the police officer is hit. In the UTV footage a rioter can be seen ducking in below the small wall on the shop roof at exactly the place where the slab drops a second or two later but before the camera pans down to ground level there is an edit and the shot cuts to the officer on the ground surrounded by colleagues . We do not know if this edit is literally one second or one minute later so therefor we don’t know if this shot of the falling slab is the actual one that hit the officer. On the Sky footage we see the officer lying on the ground while concrete slabs continue to be clearly thrown from above by rioters at her direction, so obviously the intent to drop concrete slabs and other debris onto officers was there.

  • Didlee D O’Squat

    Who would have thought that Slugger had a CSI department? The RUC has been dumped and now the PSNI can go the same way to be replaced by the Slugger Cops of the Nort (or Norn Irn if you prefer)

  • The Duck


    If you press the pause button at 21 seconds you will see someone in dark clothing crouching behind the wall where the water cannon is striking it. It is more than likely he pushed the blocks off as the water cannon would have pushed the slabs back onto the roof.

  • The Duck


    Pause the button at 21 seconds, someone in dark clothing is crouching behond the wall where the masonry is pushed off. If the force of the water cannon was responsible it would have fell onto the roof.

    (Ps sorry if this post comes up 3 times, didn’t realise I had to log in)

  • The Duck

    In fact, between 23 and 24 seconds you can see his hand as he pushes the block over.

  • RepublicanStones

    Just so long as I’m on the same shift as Marg Helgenberger, and the blonde one from the Miami version 😉

  • jtwo

    That would be Emily Proctor

  • Dixie

    Actually Pippakin it was first pointed out by a poster on Irishrepublican.net and several people agreed that it was indeed the water cannon which dislodged the coping.

    I watched the footage several times and saw that in fact they were correct and referred to it here…

  • Dixie

    By the way this Dixie is not me…

    In the words of Patrick McGoogan…

    “I am not a number, I am a person.”

  • Dixie3057

    Thanks for that profound bit of wisdom Dixie

  • JB

    I’ve watched this a dozen times, with an open mind, and I’m convinced the stone was chucked

  • Mickles

    Yea, how in shitting crikey could the force of one or indeed two water cannons force concrete blocks TOWARDS the stream of water?

    I mean, I don’t doubt that the laws of physics could be broken in the Ardoyne, but it’s a bit of a stretch to say this blocks was ‘sucked towards’ a powerful stream of water.

  • Cynic

    Ardoyne does seem to exist in a time warp at a point near the start of the universe when the rules of physics and reality could be different

    Indeed, that may be the solution to the problem. If we can apply the Uncertainty Principle to the Orange March then it could be both on the Crumlin Road and not on the Crumlin Road at the same time, giving both sides victory.

    Of course, as this Ardoyne, that would probably actually annoy both sides rather than please them.