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Northern Ireland violence the work of splinte -

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Northern Ireland violence the work of splinter group

Bronwyn Herbert reported this story on Tuesday, July 14, 2009 12:34:00

PETER CAVE: A peace accord more than a decade ago ended most of the violence between Catholics and
Protestants that has plagued Northern Ireland for more than 300 years.

But trouble has again erupted, this time at the annual flashpoint - the Orange Order parades.

These marches commemorate the victory of the Protestant King William over Catholics in 1690.

There've been reports of rioting, arson and minor bombings in Northern Belfast and other towns.

(Sound of a riot)

Ben Wellings, convenor of European studies at the Australian National University, told Bronwyn
Herbert that the violence is disturbing, but it's unlikely to be a sign of returning to the bad old
days.

BEN WELLINGS: The Catholic/nationalist/republican community tend to see these marches as
provocative whereas the Protestants see them as a right and they march around parts of Ulster in
order to kind of say that they have the right to go here even if that part of Ulster is
predominately Catholic area and that is where the kind of more recent troubles have come in and
what seems to have happened just overnight is that rioting has again broke out in response to these
Orange Order marches.

Now, fears of people seeing this kind of violence again that maybe there is a chance that the peace
process will be derailed however I don't think there is a lot of community support for a return to
that kind of sectarian violence.

BRONWYN HERBERT: Given that the peace accord in 1998 ended most of that violence between Catholic
republicans and pro-British Protestant groups which plagued Northern Ireland for three decades and
killed more than 3,000 people, how disturbing is this development when many would have thought that
the days of bombing in Northern Ireland were actually behind us?

BEN WELLINGS: Well, I guess it is a question of what type of bombs. I understand that these are
blast bombs that are used and they are sort of, if you like, crowd control weaponry. I don't think
that we are seeing a return to the types of bombing that we saw in the 70s, 80s and even in the 90s
which resulted in large loss of life.

I think that the political situation is critical but stable might be a good way of describing it.

Because you have got the two most extreme groups from the Protestant side - the Democratic Unionist
Party and from the republican side, Sinn Fein - actually locked into a power sharing agreement at
Stormont which is Northern Ireland's Parliament House, I think that that is actually quite a good
outcome because it means that these two extremist groups are not marginalised and they are actually
part of the peace process in a way that they weren't before 2007 and whilst this has been actually
bad news for the more moderate nationalist and unionist parties, I think it does give the hopes of
peace a greater chance in Northern Ireland.

I don't think that things like this, whilst they are serious, I don't think they are going to
derail the whole peace process.

BRONWYN HERBERT: Sinn Fein's Gerry Kelly, now an Irish republican MP has blamed the Real IRA for
the trouble in northern Belfast. Would you agree?

BEN WELLINGS: Um, yes. I mean this is some sort of splinter group. I mean I couldn't say for
definite whether it is the Real IRA or not but it seems to be some kind of splinter group who have
detached themselves from the IRA who they feel are too involved in the peace process so it seems to
me that this is trouble being caused by a minority of people but it also might suggest that there
is still a group of maybe young protesters who are quite keen to riot.

Now, whether they are politically motivated or I mean, I have even seen it referred to as
recreational rioting, again is something that may vary from place to place but I do think this is
the work of a minority splinter group.

PETER CAVE: Dr Ben Wellings from the Australian National University, speaking there to Bronwyn
Herbert.