A potentially explosive situation developed in Belfast on Monday evening (3 July) as a British Army unit confronted an estimated six hundred uniformed protestants of the Ulster Defence Association (U.
A potentially explosive situation developed in Belfast on Monday evening (3 July) as a British Army unit confronted an estimated six hundred uniformed protestants of the Ulster Defence Association (U.D.A.) on their way to extend a recently barricaded "no-go" area. The confrontation followed a weekend of reprisal killings and the threat of trouble over Protestant barricades erected in protest against the existence of barricaded Catholic enclaves in Londonderry.
As the U.D.A. members marched along a street close to the fiercely Protestant Shankill Road, armed with missile, batons, and riot shields, a small British Army unit stood its ground in their way. When it became clear the U.D.A. men were not prepared to retire, the army strengthened its numbers to several hundred along with many armoured vehicles. As leaders of the two sides negotiated in the streets, a tense city awaited the outcome. Late reports on Monday evening indicated that several thousand Protestant militants with guns at their disposal were converging on central Belfast.
SYNOPSIS: An estimated 600 uniformed members of the Ulster Defence Association marched along a Belfast street on Monday evening ready to extend a recently barricaded Protestant "no-go" area. With them they took a supply of missiles and rubble, batons, and riot shields, and massed in a street close to the fiercely Protestant Shankill Road, when the way was blocked by a unit of the British Army.
Local residents pleaded with representatives of both sides to avoid further tension or possible violence, but both sides refused to budge. U.D.A. spokesmen told reporters that the army would have to go of their own accord or be thrown out.
The army stopped the para-military force in the belief that barricades could not be allowed to go up because they would enclose Catholic families in an isolated predominantly-Protestant area.
As both sides brought in reinforcements, the Army Commander in Northern Ireland....General Robert Ford....arrived for talks with U.D.A. leaders. After a series of "street" negotiations it was announced that agreement had been reached...the Army would be responsible for law and order in the area while a number of unarmed UDA patrols remained.
Late on Monday evening, however, a tense city waited on knife-edge as several thousand militant Protestants with guns at their disposal converged on Central Belfast.