Weapons seized in police swoop in Derry

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The Independent Online

Police investigating a bomb attack on a police station in Derry seized weapons and ammunition, it was revealed.

More than 100 rounds, real and replica rifles, balaclavas and mobile phones were recovered at locations around the city.

Police were still quizzing a suspect, 53, about the 3 August attack at Strand Road barracks. There were no injuries.

Yesterday, heavily armed officers stood guard when a father of four was charged with the 200lb car bomb attack.

They took up position inside and outside a courthouse in the city when Philip O'Donnell, 42, arrived in a police Land Rover to face 12 terrorist charges.

Meanwhile in Belfast, there were nationalist protests today as a loyal order parade passed a sectarian flashpoint in the city.

Security was tight at Ardoyne in the north of the city for the feeder parade by Apprentice Boys marchers on their way to their main demonstration in Derry.

But while the Ardoyne area was the scene of three days of rioting around an Orange Order parade on 12 July, there was no immediate repeat of the violence today.

The march passed off peacefully as about 40 Apprentice Boys marchers passed nationalists carrying banners who staged a silent protest.

Focus will now shift to Derry where a major security operation will be in place for the main Apprentice Boys parade.

About 15,000 people and 140 bands are expected to take part in the main march which begins at about 12.30pm.

Stormont Justice Minister David Ford is among politicians of all hues appealing for calm.

Concerns centred on a protest planned by dissident republicans in Derry which was to coincide with the parade.

It was linked to a dispute between dissident inmates and officials in Maghaberry prison.

But the protest was cancelled after a deal was brokered earlier in the week to end the jail dispute.

The Apprentice Boys march marks the siege of Derry between 1688-89.

Young apprentices had closed the gates in the city walls to stop the army of Catholic King James.

The annual march has been the scene of violence in the past, but the Apprentice Boys have also previously brokered accommodations with nationalists to avoid confrontation.

Today's events follow some of the most serious rioting in recent years last month when 80 police officers were injured in clashes with republican protesters.

Youths hurling bricks and wielding iron bars and planks attacked officers in Ardoyne.

Police fired baton rounds in response.

A total of 31 people were arrested later in north and west Belfast including a youth aged 18 yesterday.

There have been weeks of talks aimed at defusing tensions ahead of today's procession.