North Belfast Interface tensions

Over the course of the weekend, two working-class youths, one from the New Lodge and one from Tiger’s bay, were injured during a spate of sectarian attacks, all of which occurred near the North Queen Street interface. Sectarianism is the method used here by the establishment in order to keep all working-class people equally oppressed. We oppose sectarianism in all its forms. An upsurge in so-called ‘recreational rioting’ which only creates further sectarian tensions and hard-ship on an already volatile interface and upon an already oppressed people is a cause of immediate concern for Republican socialist community activists.

We are not naïve when it comes to addressing these issues or assessing their root. Events like those of this weekend do not occur spontaneously, in isolation nor indeed are they ever separate from various and often sinister agendas. We are mindful that only weeks ago a number of masked men stormed a bar in Tiger’s bay and imposed a ‘new UDA leadership’ on the area. Undoubtedly the internal machinations of Loyalist paramilitarism are playing a part in present escalating tensions at the North Queen Street interface.

Neither are we hesitant when it comes to addressing issues existent within the Nationalist working-class community. Over the last few months community activists have liaised with residents in the New Lodge regarding an increase in anti-social behaviour in the area; from the lighting of fires on the 7-hills to Joy riding to stone-throwing. Nationalist youths have been involved in this activity and it is our objective to end it. Undoubtedly this behaviour is playing a part in present escalating tensions at the North Queen Street interface.

While we do not suppose that we can do much to amend present tensions within the North Belfast U.D.A (a contributing factor to these issues) we are more than confident that we can continue to engage positively with young people in the New Lodge. We will do so with the objective of reaching a positive outcome for the entire community on a range of issues of concern. We have for our part been engaged in a process of facilitating the expression of alienated nationalist youths for some-time now. Although this process is revolutionary and only in its infancy, it is receiving support from academics and community activists/institutions throughout the country. More importantly it has been accepted, by some of the young people from the area, as a legitimate method towards community engagement. It is envisaged that by facilitating youth expression, we can find the means that people need both to respond to ,and to resolve, all of those issues which are having a negative impact on everyone in the community as a whole.

We will engage with everyone on an equal basis and in the best interests of the working-class people in order that we may resolve ALL issues. Our communities deserve better than what they experienced this weekend while our young people should NEVER be subject to any form of exclusion, fear or violence. In conclusion we add that the methods employed this weekend by an MI5 led ‘police’ have been as destructive and counter-productive as were the actions of young people or indeed as have been the criminalisation and hysterical reaction elected by some within the media and indeed the community over the last few years.

As we approach Easter; Poblacht na h-Éireann gains prominence in our thoughts and so we ask those who are engaged on this issue to reflect on what it pledges;
“The Republic guarantees religious and civil liberty, equal rights and equal opportunities to all its citizens, and declares its resolve to pursue the happiness and prosperity of the whole nation and of all its parts, cherishing all of the children of the nation equally, and oblivious of the differences carefully fostered by an alien Government, which have divided a minority from the majority in the past”