Friday, September 09, 2005

Loyalists ready to escalate blockades

Ciarán Barnes:

Loyalist road blocks in protest at a Parades Commission decision to restrict a weekend Orange Order march are to be rolled out across the city, Daily Ireland has learned.

Yesterday morning loyalists, some of whom are members of the Orange Order, blocked the Springfield Road in west Belfast during the morning and evening rush hours.

Other roads in the north and west of the city were also blocked, causing long delays for angry commuters, many of whom complained of police inaction.

Nationalist residents contrasted the reaction of the police to the illegal blockades to the force used against nationalists protesting against Oarange marches.

The Orange Order is due to march along the Springfield Road on Saturday, however the Parades Commission has ruled that it cannot pass nationalist homes and must come onto the Springfield via the old Mackies factory site.

Unhappy at this decision loyalists fulfilled threats they made last weekend to block roads in protest.

The PSNI told them it was an illegal protest and asked them to move.

Although yesterday’s demonstrations were relatively small it is understood future protests will be bigger, targeting different locations around the city.

It is understood that loyalists are planning a major blockade of the Springfield Road on Saturday.

Sinn Féin west Belfast councillor, Tom Hartley, accused protesters of trying to “heighten tensions” by creating chaos.

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