Riots hit Applause rehearsal
(15/09/2005) by John Grayden

Session postponed as mobs take to Belfast's streets

THE Northern Region's first rehearsal for the upcoming Applause concert fell victim to Belfast's ugly street scenes. Officials also cancelled a scheduled rehearsal for the Region's Cavalcade of Song concert, listed for Belfast's revamped Ulster Hall in November. Both rehearsals were due to take place at Belfast Operatic Company's headquarters at The Mount, one of the gateways to the eastern part of the city and, in rioters' terms, if you excuse the black Belfast humour, only a stone's throw from the biggest sectarian interface in that quarter of the city. While things have calmed down significantly, Belfast Operatic also lost four sessions it had planned for this week. Officials pulled the plug on a company rehearsal, two sets of auditions and a committee meeting. In scenes reminiscent of 25 years ago, loyalist rioters trashed an arterial road close to Belfast Operatic's base while in the nearby nationalist Short Strand area, republican agitators continued their campaign of intimidation against the widowed partner of IRA murder victim Robert McCartney, stabbed to death outside a city centre bar earlier this year.