PSNI press conference failed to address issues of concern to Portadown nationalists

Press release – 17th July 2011

The Garvaghy Road Residents Coalition (GRRC) has described as “defensive PR spin” a media statement issued by PSNI Superintendent Jason Murphy in relation to Friday night’s loyalist violence in Portadown.
A spokesperson for the GRRC said, “Supt Murphy’s statement issued at Saturday’s press conference in Portadown’s Mahon Road base was a defensive PR spin aimed downplaying the organised nature of Friday night’s violent events in the town.
“Supt Murphy stated that ‘No homes within the Nationalist community were directly attacked although we (the PSNI) are aware of some damage being caused from missiles thrown into the area of Obins Street.’
“Residents, living adjacent to the peaceline/interface, can confirm that their homes did come under attack from an organised loyalist mob throwing bricks, bottles, paint-bombs, fireworks and, more sinisterly, at least one blast bomb.
“Supt Murphy’s statement noticeably does not address several core questions:

· Why was an openly intimidatory gathering of masked loyalists permitted to be held immediately adjacent to the main peace-line/interface in Portadown?

· Given the previous violent history of so-called loyalist ‘peaceful protests’ at the ,Corcrain Road/Charles St/Craigwell Avenue/Obins Drive and Avenue interface how did the PSNI conclude that a gathering of masked loyalists immediately beside that interface could in anyway be deemed either wise, acceptable or justifiable under Public Order legislation?

· Why there has been no acknowledgement by the PSNI that at least one blast-bomb type device was thrown by those same masked men towards homes in Obins Drive and Obins Avenue?

· Why is the PSNI reluctant to confirm the widely-held view within the nationalist community in Portadown that Friday’s so-called ‘peaceful protest’ was organised by the Mid-Ulster UVF?

· Why PSNI officers were clearly observed by nationalist residents to be engaging in either conversation, or negotiations, with three masked, and one unmasked, leaders of that loyalist mob?

“Previous loyalist protests held adjacent to Craigwell Avenue some years ago, and which were also deemed ‘peaceful’ by the police, resulted in almost one third of the nationalist families in that street fleeing their homes permanently. Since then, a number of Portuguese-speaking families have moved into Craigwell bringing a new vitality to it. However, those families have now also fallen victim to loyalist intimidation, as demonstrated on July 12th and July 15th.
“Unfortunately, Supt Murphy’s statement would appear to demonstrate a policy appeasement towards, and a denial of, loyalist intimidation and violence directed towards those living within nationalist areas of Portadown.”


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