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The BBC's Denis Murray
"The government may chose to suspend devolution in order to postpone a crisis"
 real 56k

Sir Ronnie Flanagan, RUC Chief Constable
"It serves no purpose"
 real 28k

Billy Hutchinson, Progressive Unionist Party
"There are people who have used children as a political football"
 real 28k

Head of Holy Cross Primary School, Anne Tanney
"I don't want young children involved in any type of confrontation"
 real 28k

Friday, 22 June, 2001, 15:45 GMT 16:45 UK
RUC chief attacks riot 'scum'
Parents have to find an alternative way to take children to school
Parents have to find an alternative way to school
The RUC Chief Constable, Sir Ronnie Flanagan, has launched a scathing attack on rioters after another night of street violence in north Belfast.

Sir Ronnie said there were signs that the violence was being orchestrated by paramilitaires, including the loyalist Ulster Defence Association.

The area which suffered the worst of the trouble is quiet after a second consecutive night of violence.


My officers are being targeted for murder in these gun and bomb attacks

Sir Ronnie Flanagan
A total of 24 police officers were injured in the clashes with minor incidents occuring in other areas of the city.

The violence happened in an area where Catholics and Protestants live in close proximity and which has a history of sectarian tension.

Speaking during a visit to Hazelwood Integrated College on Friday where an assembly for peace is taking place, Sir Ronnie said he would put whatever resources were necessary into dealing with the situation.

He said: "My reaction is to compare the magnificent young men and women of the RUC with the scum that attack them - people whose mission in life is to fly flags and strut about in balaclavas thinking they are either Ireland's finest or Ulster's finest.

Sir Ronnie Flanagan
Sir Ronnie Flanagan: scathing attack on rioters
"I think it's pathetic. I just wish everyone in Northern Ireland would wake up to that fact."

Meanwhile, a group of about 50 pupils and parents were again prevented from getting to the Holy Cross Girls' Primary school along the Ardoyne school on Friday.

They were turned away at police lines and had to go to the school by another route.

The worst of the violence, sparked in north Belfast by sectarian clashes, started to tail off after midnight and the Royal Ulster Constabulary reported that the streets were quiet by 0400 BST on Friday.

Click here to see a map of the flashpoint area

Police came under fire from petrol bombs, paint bombs and stones from large crowds of both republican and loyalist youths in the troubled Ardoyne district.

The second night of violence there saw attacks intensify, with blast bombs hurled and shots fired at the police from the loyalist Glenbryn Parade area.

Thursday night incidents
24 officers injured
10 shots fired at police
6 blast bombs
46 petrol bombs
10 fireworks plus bricks, bottles and paint bombs
Three arrests for public order offences
No plastic bullets fired

Chief Superintendent Roger Maxwell, the RUC's district commander in north Belfast, said the violence could not be blamed on the forthcoming loyalist marching season.

"I think it would be wrong to place the blame for this violence at the door of the marching season," he said.

"It is a much more serious, a much more deep rooted problem than simply something that is caused by parades or opposition to parades."

Three people were arrested for public order offences, but no plastic bullets were fired during the riots, the RUC said.

The trouble followed a standoff between rival groups of Protestants and Catholics in Ardoyne which erupted when children at a Catholic school were prevented from leaving by stone throwing youths on Tuesday.

The Holy Cross Girls' Primary School was closed the following day after many parents kept children away over fears for their safety.

Complaint

On Thursday morning, loyalists prevented pupils from going inside the building.

Progressive Unionist Party (PUP) Assembly member Billy Hutchinson said he had been injured by police when they forced loyalists back up the street in the latest disturbances.

Mr Hutchinson said he would make an official complaint to the Police Ombudsman about his treatment after going to hospital.

"Police officers beat men to the ground with their batons and shields and I had to get up and run," he said.

A number of RUC officers were injured as trouble spread into the west of the city.

In the Springfield Road area three police officers were injured when attacked while separating rival factions involved in clashes.

One officer received head injuries when he was assaulted in the North Queen Street area, the RUC spokesman said.

SDLP assemblyman for north Belfast, Alban Maginness has called for dialogue to end the violence.

"The communities must sit down together and they must develop a dialogue," he said.

"That could do an awful lot to rebuild community relations in a very, very divided and very fractured neighbourhood."


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See also:

19 Jun 01 | Northern Ireland
Riot police called to school attack
20 Jun 01 | Northern Ireland
Police keep factions apart
15 Jun 01 | Northern Ireland
Clashes at Orange parade
22 Jun 01 | Business
Northern Ireland's economic fears
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