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Tension ‘could be cut with a knife’

By Kieran Hughes

Tensions in Ardoyne ahead of the Orange Order’s annual march past nationalist homes could be “cut with a knife” according to residents living near the scene of widespread violence in recent years.

Nationalist homes and vehicles on the streets surrounding Balholm Drive and Brompton Park have been targeted by rioters in recent years and some residents living on the Crumlin Road were today erecting grilles to protect their windows.

Residents in the area who we spoke to today (Wednesday) said they fear the worst.

“It is absolutely terrible, you can cut the tensions with a knife, only time will tell but we fear the worst,” said Balholm Drive resident Siobhan McLaughlin.

Last year Siobhan was forced to barricade her house and car with makeshift defences to deter rioters.

“Last year I was out in the street at quarter to three in the morning putting a wheelie bin in front of my car to protect it. I am afraid to leave the place this year in case anything happens my property,” she said.

She said that a decision by the Parades Commission to bring the Orange Order’s return parade forward to 4pm had heightened tensions.

“I don’t know what the Parades Commission are at. By letting them down early the trouble is going to start earlier,” she said.

Alex Trainor, who has lived in Ardoyne for 69 years, said the problems would end if the Orange march wasn’t allowed past nationalist homes.

“They shouldn’t be allowed up the road at all. There is an alternative route through their own area – they should take that. It is pure hatred and intimidation. They should stick to their own neighbourhood,” he said.

Crumlin Road resident Anne O’Connor said she too feared trouble would flare.

“It’s in the lap of the Gods now. I would be very wary that there will be trouble, early return or no early return. With the parade returning, a protest by GARC (Greater Ardoyne Residents Collective) and a counter protest by North and West it’s a recipe for disaster.”

Marcella McLaughlin, from Balholm Drive, said heavy police presence in the area adds to the tensions.

“If the police go away then the kids will go away. They are just agitating the situation,” she said.

“But there would be no trouble if the parade didn’t pass. It is like us saying we would like to march down the Shankill.”

One resident who didn’t want to be named said the Orange Order should be allowed to march.

“Ten minutes and it’s over and done with, just ignore them and that will be it.

“At the end of the day it is our cars and homes that will be burnt and damaged,” he said.

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