In July 2010, nationalist residents of Ardoyne, supported by a number of political activists, staged a dignified peaceful protest against the annual sectarian coat-trailing rituals by the Orange Order.
As the unwanted and completely unnecessary Orange march approached the Ardoyne shops, around 200 residents and supporters, including a number of éirígí activists, took to the road and staged a sit-down protest.
It took scores of riot clad, baton wielding PSNI officers nearly five hours to drag the determined protestors from the path of the sectarian march. Many protestors were injured during the PSNI clearance operation.
The PSNI baton charged residents, used water cannons against women and children and fired plastic bullets indiscriminately during their “clearances”.
In 2011, thirty of those who participated in the residents’ protest at Ardoyne were convicted by a Belfast court for opposing the Orange Order.
Although the protest took place on 12th July 2010, it wasn’t until six months later that summonses were handed out by the PSNI. It was obvious this was a political decision aimed at punishing the Ardoyne residents and their supporters for having the audacity to object to the open sectarianism of the Orange Order.
A number of éirígí activists took part in the sit-down protest and two of them, Pádraic Mac Coitir and Rab Jackson, were among those physically dragged off the road by heavily armed PSNI members.
Most of those who appeared in court were given fines despite the fact that the PSNI evidence was at its best, extremely poor, and at its worst, completely concocted.
A number of those given fines appealed their sentences but, as expected, their convictions were ‘upheld’ by another British judge.
All were given six months to pay the fines, but refused to do so on a point of principle.
Today, six of the men were among those took part in a protest outside Antrim Road PSNI barracks to highlight the hypocrisy of a partisan system of British ‘justice’ that continues to act in a discriminatory and oppressive manner against Irish Republicans.
Large numbers of PSNI personnel were present during the protest and all those participating were photographed.
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