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Friday, 27 July, 2001, 13:39 GMT 14:39 UK
Officers injured during clashes
The army patrols in Ardoyne following a night of violence
The army patrols in Ardoyne following a night of violence
Three police officers have been injured during fresh clashes between republicans and loyalists in the Ardoyne area of north Belfast.

The police said three plastic baton rounds were fired during the disturbances.

Each side has blamed the other for starting the trouble on Thursday night. The skirmishes were short-lived.

At Twaddell Avenue, Protestant residents said they came under attack from gangs of men from the nearby mainly nationalist Ardoyne.

Loyalist community worker Alfie McCrory said people in the area were living in fear.

He called on Sinn Fein leaders, including the local assembly member Gerry Kelly, to do more to calm the situation.

High alert

John MacVicar of the Twaddell Residents' Association said: "From the top of Twaddell Avenue down to the junction of Woodvale Gardens it was just a carpet of glass, bricks and stones.

"The only was that I can describe it was that it was reminiscent of 1969."

People will fully support the police if they are fully seen to support the communities in the north

SDLP Chairman Alex Attwood

However, republican sources said loyalists started the trouble.

Sinn Fein condemned what it claimed were attacks by the RUC on nationalists and denied the trouble had been orchestrated.

The party's assembly member for north Belfast, Gerry Kelly, said senior republicans had been present.

"They are the type of people who can calm the situation down, so of course they are there," he said.

The security forces, who came under attack from both sides, remained on high alert in the area throughout the night.

The recent clashes followed a period of tension in north Belfast, which heightened in June when loyalists prevented Catholic school children from passing through the Glenbryn area on their normal route to the Holy Cross Girls Primary School in nearby Ardoyne.

Meanwhile, the nationalist SDLP called on the police to step up their efforts to prevent sectarian attacks in north Belfast.

A party delegation met the RUC's assistant chief constable for Belfast on Friday.


Speaking after the meeting, party chairman Alex Attwood said people understood the police were stretched in certain parts.

"People will fully support the police if they are fully seen to support the communities in the north and to date that has not adequately been the perception or the reality," he said.

John MacVicar:
John MacVicar: "Carpet of bricks and stones"

Loyalist pipe bomb attacks have become an almost nightly occurrence.

SDLP assembly member for the area Alban Maginness said he was concerned about the security response to recent attacks.

On Thursday, the SDLP urged the government to give a "clear and unambiguous declaration" on the current state of the loyalist paramilitary ceasefires.

The call came after five people, including three children, escaped injury in a pipe bomb attack in north Belfast early on Thursday morning.

Most of the families targeted with pipe bombs and other crude devices have been Catholic.

BBC NI's Yvette Shapiro:
"The skirmishes were short-lived but vicious"
See also:

26 Jul 01 | Northern Ireland
SDLP questions loyalist ceasefire
01 Apr 01 | Northern Ireland
UDA blamed for gang attacks
10 Jul 01 | Northern Ireland
Loyalist anger over political process
10 Jul 01 | Northern Ireland
UFF withdraws Agreement support
17 Jul 01 | Northern Ireland
Police come under gunfire
25 Jul 01 | Northern Ireland
Cowen to hear of sectarian tensions
17 Jul 01 | Northern Ireland
Rioters throw blast bombs
16 Jul 01 | Northern Ireland
Houses damaged in petrol bombing
16 Jul 01 | Northern Ireland
Policing 'incidents' under inquiry
23 Aug 00 | Northern Ireland
Who are the loyalist paramilitaries?
17 Jan 01 | Northern Ireland
UDA upsurge in violence
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