Saturday, 21 July 2012

The North Belfast News and the Ardoyne riots

This afternoon I picked up a copy of the North Belfast News, which is a sister paper of the Andersonstown News and very much a pro-Sinn Fein newspaper.  It is a weekly paper and so this as the first issue after the Twelfth.

I was interested to see what sort of reports they would give of the events of the past week in North Belfast and I was not disappointed.   The North Belfast News managed to inhabit their usual world of denial and delusion.

The second story on page 1 was entitled 'Police handling of Ardoyne violence comes under fire'.   It seems that Sinn Fein held a clinic in Ardoyne yesterday to collect complaints about the PSNI and the report highlights the 'decision by the PSNI to face nationalist residents in full riot gear while loyalists had a 'soft hat and unifrm' approach'.  This was interpreted by 'local people' as 'an indicator of the two different policing approaches.'  You couldn't make it up, could you? 

A dissident republican gunman fires 17 shots at the police from an assault rifle in an attempt at mass murder, crowds of republican rioters cheer on the gunman, republcian rioters throw blast bombs and petrol bombs and pelt the police with misslies hour after hour but what is the big issue for the North Belfast News - the dress code of the PSNI!

'Police handling of Ardoyne violence comes under fire' - a more appropriate issue for the front page might have been 'Police come under fire in Ardoyne' and by 'under fire' I mean dissident republican gunfire!  Ah but then you wouldn't want to damage the reputation of the good republicans of Ardoyne.

Ah well it may be on page 2 but no, we get more of the same article with its criticism of the PSNI.  Then surely the dissident republican gunman will be mentioned on page 3.  Attempted murder surely deserves a mention ...  but again nothing.

On page 4 journalist Gemma Burns is at it again.  This time she reports that the Parades Commission has allowed an Orange Order parade 'through Ardoyne'.  Now I am sure Gemma is a well-educated young woman but she is clearly 'geographically challenged'.  She doesn't seem to realise that the parade goes up the main Crumlin Road and does not go 'through Ardoyne'.

Now Page 5 has a long statement from Gerry Kelly, so surely something about the gunman ..... but once again nothing.  The editorial is on page 6 and the editor is outraged by a variety of incidents but the gunman is not one of them.  There is no mention of the assault rifle at all. It is simply the regular republic rhetoric against the Orange Order with not a mention of GARC, republican rioters or the republican gunman.

Finally after several pages of advertisements and a few more articles, I get to the bottom of page 10 and there at last is an article with the headline 'Twelfth arrests lead to protests'.  The focus is on the white-line protests by supporters of a man charged with attempted murder but there is it.  Thomas McWilliams, from Northwick Drive is charged with attempted murder and possession of an assault rifle with intent to endanger life.  The case against him is not that he fired the shot but that he took the weapon away from the scene. 

The article also reports that Alan Lundy, who has appeared in court charged with riotous assembly, is a member of GARC but there is no reference back to the claim by GARC on page 4 that 'Our people weren't behind Ardoyne rioting', even though both articles were written by the same journalist.

Most newspapers put their big stories on page 1 and page 3 and stories of lesser importance further into the newspaper.  So this gives us some idea of the priorities of the North Belfast News.  An attempt at mass murder, buried at the bottom of page 10 beneath an article about two flags on an empty building.

Oh and the sectarian paint bomb attack on Clifton Street Orange Hall in North Belfast on Tuesday ... well that didn't make it into the North Belfast News at all.  The newspaper consists of 56 pages but there was obviously no room for that.  It's called the North Belfast News but it seems that it's really Some of the North Belfast News.

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