Next week, PeacePlayers International – Northern Ireland (PPI-NI) hold their first Belfast Interface Games (BIG) camps of 2013. After a weekend of turmoil across the streets of Belfast, we at PeacePlayers hope that the children from the areas affected by riots and protests can still unite through our cross-community sports camp.
Two of the worst affected areas during the weekends trouble were East and North Belfast; with interfaces such as Ardoyne/Twadell Avenue and Newtownards Road/Short Strand areas coming to blows through protests and riots after “the 12th July” marches. This year seen a change in ‘the norm’ when The Parades Commission didn’t permit the Loyalist bands and supporters to make their annual return parade past the Ardoyne Shops, where rioting had occurred in previous years from the Nationalist community.
This decision sparked anger within the Loyalist community, which led to violence and eventually riots towards the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) officers who were in place to prevent the parade from continuing past the Ardoyne Shops. Protesting Loyalists were then attacked on Twadell Avenue with a pipe bomb, rumoured to have been from the dissident republicans, although no civilians were hurt.
Fortunately these areas are the first two sites of our BIG camps of Summer 2013. Offering a free, three-day sports camp to the children of these areas provides an opportunity to form a better understanding of ‘the other side’ as well as an alternative to rioting in the streets. Instead of throwing rocks and bottles across walls at each other, PPI-NI, alongside Ulster Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA), Ulster Rugby and the Irish Football Association (IFA), promotes the idea of throwing or kicking a gaelic, rugby or football ball across a pitch to each other.
For more information or to register for the Belfast Interface Games 2013 visit our site http://www.peaceplayersintl.org/big2013