Courtroom clashes spill on to Belfast streets

RIOTS returned to the streets of Belfast yesterday when loyalists and nationalists clashed in the city's Crown Court during the trial of a man accused of attempting to murder a prominent loyalist.

The security forces fired plastic bullets after a petrol bomb was thrown following the expulsion of 40 loyalists from the court building in an attempt to keep rival factions apart.

Hundreds of soldiers and policemen were called in. At one point masked men carrying cudgels and pickaxes joined a group of women to block the Crumlin Road outside the courtroom. Two vehicles were later hijacked on the Shankill Road, the Protestant centre of west Belfast. As they watched a hijacked van smouldering in the street behind the court, residents of a nearby Protestant estate accused the security forces of victimisation and brutality. They insisted Catholics had packed the trial of Stephen Larkin to prevent Protestants from getting in.

The rival groups swore and jeered at each other in court when loyalists asked Mr Justice Liam McCollum to dismiss and attempted murder charge against Mr Larkin, from Ardoyne, Belfast. He is accused of attempting to murder Johnny Adair. The case was adjourned until today after the violence broke out.

'The RUC are going into courts telling lies about Protestants,' one middle- aged man said. One civilian and three police officers were slightly injured. There were no arrests.

Last night Loyalist gangs set fire to four vehicles on roads around the Shankill following a Protestant demonstration. A police spokesman said: 'There have been four incidents of shots being fired agaist the security forces.'

In a separate incident, a 25-year-old man was shot in the leg last night when masked gunmen broke into a house in a mainly Protestant estate in Glengormley, north Belfast. Violent loyalist groups have been active in the mixed suburb.

Meanwhile, garda forensic experts believe the use of old unreliable commercial explosive in a bomb attack by the Ulster Volunteer Force, a loyalist paramilitary group, on a Belfast to Dublin train on Monday probably averted a major disaster.

The shoe-box bomb in a black bag failed to explode when only the detonator went off as the train pulled into Dublin's Connolly station. Tests showed it contained powergel, a gelignite-type explosive used in quarries in Britain. Initially it was thought the device was little more than a firecracker. The explosive was the same as that used in the failed attack on the Widow Scallans pub in inner-city Dublin in May. The bomber may have put the bomb on the train in Belfast and then got off at Lisburn.

Maire Geoghegan-Quinn, the Irish justice minister, yesterday met Patrick Culligan, the Garda Commissioner, to hear an assessment of the increased loyalist threat.

An Irish cabinet meeting later heard proposals for tighter border surveillance, including extended aerial observation and more garda checks points in and around Dublin and other major cities in the Republic.

Mrs Geoghegan-Quinn said every possible precaution was being taken to protect the public. She dismissed suggestions by Unionists that loyalist violence was being provoked by the Taoiseach, Albert Reynolds, pushing 'too far too fast' to tie Sinn Fein into the political process after the IRA ceasefire.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk