Targeting of buses carrying brethren and bandsmen condemned as ‘vicious sectarian attack’

Alderman Mark Cosgrove.
Alderman Mark Cosgrove.

Police have confirmed that enquiries are continuing into reports of buses carrying Orangemen and bandsmen being attacked as they passed Bawnmore on their return from the annual Twelfth parade in Belfast.

Several buses were targeted by youths throwing bricks and paint bombs as they travelled along the Shore Road at around 9pm on July 13.

It’s understood that none of the buses were badly damaged and there were no reports of any injuries.

The Rathcoole-based Sons of Kai Flute Band were on one of the buses that was attacked.

UUP Alderman Mark Cosgrove, whose Orange lodge, West Belfast LOL 739, marched behind the band at the Belfast parade, condemned the incident as “a vicious sectarian attack by a tiny unrepresentative minority” and welcomed the fact that no one was injured.

“Such attacks will only strengthen the resolve of the parading and bands fraternity to celebrate our unionist culture, which goes back centuries, in a manner that threatens no one,” he said.

“The significantly increased crowds at this year’s Twelfth celebrations indicate that at long last the unionist family have woken up to the fact that we cannot take our culture for granted and it has to be celebrated in a peaceful and respectful manner.”

Sons of Kai member and local UKIP representative, Ken Boyle said that it was only by luck that no one on the band’s private hire bus was injured.

“It wasn’t just the band, there were also women and children on the bus,” he explained. “The outside pane of the window smashed, but lucky enough the brick didn’t come through and nobody was hurt.

“Clearly these sectarian attacks on the buses were designed to cause trouble. They could have caused a road accident, or somebody could have been seriously hurt.

“There have been too many sectarian attacks on the Protestant community and nothing seems to be getting done about it.”

PSNI District Commander, Superintendent Muir Clark appealed for anyone with information about the incident to come forward.

“Police attended the area but the youths had dispersed. We also spoke with Translink, the bus operator, who confirmed that no buses had been damaged as a result of the disturbance,” he told the Times.

“Police enquiries remain ongoing and we appeal for any witnesses to come forward or contact Crimestoppers anonymously with the identity of those involved.”