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3 July 2003 Edition

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Stabbed within hours of Orange march

A Catholic man was stabbed in the stomach by a loyalist bandsman only hours after a controversial Orange Order march took place on the nationalist Springfield Road in West Belfast.

The 27-year-old father of two was walking to a local shop on Clifton Street in north Belfast with his two-year-old son at around 5.30pm on Saturday when he was attacked.

"I was on my way to the shop with my wee lad," said the injured man. "There wasn't anyone around, it was deserted. When we got to the garage at Clifton Street this big heavy guy with band gear on jumped at me and knocked me against the wall. When I got up I realised that I was cut and I felt blood on my side."

The loyalist attacker is believed to be one of a number of Orange bandsmen who had charged off two buses returning from the Whiterock parade. The buses had stopped at the Catholic Stanhope Drive in Carrick Hill, North Belfast, when around seven men wearing Rangers tops were observed getting off the bus and running into the nearby Catholic estate. At least one was armed with a knife.

"The guy was wearing a Rangers top, with a bandsman's waist coat and trousers," said the victim. "I didn't see what he stabbed me with. I'm not too sure what sparked all of it off. I didn't hear anything on my way to the shop or I wouldn't have brought the child with me. I didn't know something was going on until he pushed me against the wall. When I got up I realised all the buses were there and there was shouting and people scattering. I saw the blood on my shirt, grabbed the child, and turned back towards home."

The injured man said hand-to-hand fighting broke out between Orangemen and nationalists as he hurried to safety. The melée lasted for 15 minutes before abating.

The victim was rushed to the Royal Victoria Hospital. Doctors say it is too early to tell if there is any lasting damage to his liver.

Sinn Féin Councillor Margaret McClenaghan said the attack showed that "the Orange Order is incapable of controlling its supporters and vindicates the concerns expressed by nationalist spokespersons in interface areas".


Sectarian petrol bombing

A 59-year-old Catholic man and his wife escaped serious injury after loyalists targeting their family car in a sectarian petrol bomb attack in Randalstown at around 1.15 am on Thursday 26 June, also set fire to their home.

Patrick McCann said he believed their lives were saved after a neighbour heard the petrol bomb, thrown at their car, exploding.


Hate crime in loyalist South Belfast

A pipe bomb attack on the home of a black South African woman has left the 20-year-old mother of two "extremely traumatised".

Around 12.30 am on Monday 30 June, the PSNI received a telephone warning alerting them to the presense of the bomb. The British Army took it away for forensic examination.

The attack on the woman, and her eight-week-old twin infants, is the latest in a series of racially motivated attacks taking place in the unionist Village estate of South Belfast. Two weeks ago, another pipe bomb was thrown through the front window of a different house on the same street. Two black South African women were living there at the time.

Dr Joseph Uhomoibhi, chair of the Belfast-based African Cultural Centre, said the attack was "deplorable".

The escalation in racially motivated attacks in the area has been linked to right-wing hate groups such as the BNP, who recently canvassed Donegall Road handing out literature to local residents which described asylum seekers as "unwanted invaders" and warning "these criminals will be given your taxes and council houses".


UDA man jailed for feud attack

UDA member Tommy Potts, who was freed under the Good Friday Agreement, was sentenced to four years imprisonment on Friday 27 June for his involvement in an attack on a UVF haunt that sparked a feud between the UDA and UVF.

However, Potts from Dover Street was treated leniently by Judge Campbell, who ruled that the UDA man should not have to serve the remaining eight years of the 16 year sentence he received in 1993 for conspiracy to murder Catholics because his parole licence ran out 12 days before the attack.

The Belfast Court heard that Potts and another two men were part of a UDA mob that attacked the Rex Bar on Belfast's Shankill Road which is a regular haunt for members of the UVF, after an LVF band was set upon during a UDA parade on 19 August 2000.

Also jailed for four years was 28-year-old self confessed UDA gunman Mark Whiteside, from Dhu Varren Park, who admitted possessing a pistol and firing 15 shots into the Rex bar. Seventeen year old David Coleman from Hopewell Crescent, aged just 14 at the time of the attack, was given two years detention.


Antrim loyalists guilty

Four County Antrim loyalists who pleaded guilty to their parts in a series of sectarian attacks over a three day period in Ballymena County Antrim were sentenced at Belfast Court on Friday 27 June.

All four admitted causing grievous bodily harm with intent in the early hours of 7 December 2001. Passing sentence Judge Anthony Hart said they had all pleaded guilty to the most disgraceful sectarian behaviour.

Meanwhile, two Belfast loyalists who admitted having an assault rifle and ammunition with intent to endanger life were each given five-year custodial and probation sentences at the same court.
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