A new round of violence—the worst to hit the province in a decade—broke out in Belfast Sept. 10 following a decision to restrict an Orange Order parade. Police said surveillance footage of that violence showed paramilitaries armed with automatic weapons and explosive devices, and members of the Orange Order attacking police and orchestrating the violence.
Rioters hijacked cars, blocked roads and attacked police lines with petrol bombs, bottles and stones. A blast bomb was thrown at a police station in West Belfast. More than 50 live rounds were fired at police and soldiers, who returned fire with plastic bullets. A bomb-making factory and seven firearms were seized in follow-up raids.
Chief Constable Hugh Orde said it was clear that the gunmen had been firing at the security forces, and accused two outlawed Protestant groups—the Ulster Defence Association and the Ulster Volunteer Force—of orchestrating what he called “completely organized” attacks. “Officers were shot at last night. We are very lucky we do not have dead officers this morning,” he said Sept. 10.
The Orange Order rejected his remarks as “intemperate, inflammatory and inaccurate”. It described police operations as “policing at its worst”.
Sinn Fein claimed Catholics had been dragged from their cars by rioters. Gerry Adams, the Sinn Fein president, said: “There is a concerted attempt under way to draw young nationalists and republicans into conflict at interface areas across Belfast.” (The Scotsman, Sept. 12)
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