23 September 2004 Edition
British parliamentary watchdog to investigate sectarianism and racism
As a British parliamentary watchdog, the 'Northern Ireland' Affairs Committee (NIAC), travels to the Six Counties to investigate sectarianism and racism across the North, Sinn Féin's Paul Butler is calling on people targeted in loyalist attacks to contact the body.
Speaking to An Phoblacht, Butler revealed that he has already forwarded a dossier detailing hundreds of sectarian attacks carried out by unionist paramilitaries in the Lagan Valley and Dunmurry areas to NIAC chairperson Michael Mates.
The dossier highlights the ongoing sectarianism directed at the Catholic population throughout the Lagan Valley constituency since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement.
Among the incidents listed is the UDA killing of Catholic James McMahon. The 21-year-old died the day after he was beaten in Lisburn City Centre by a baseball bat-wielding UDA gang. The dossier also includes details of Catholic churches, schools and homes that have been attacked with pipe and petrol bombs.
"What we have in this dossier is evidence of a sustained and vicious sectarian campaign against the Catholic community living in the Lagan Valley constituency. It is important that when the NIAC is holding it's inquiry that they look at all forms of sectarianism not only the physical attacks on Catholics but the intimidation through flags and emblems and other forms of sectarian harassment".
Butler also pointed out the failure of the PSNI to protect the Catholic community across the North from this campaign. "One of the startling findings of this report was that of the many attacks recorded the PSNI did little or nothing to apprehend or convict those responsible."
The Lagan Valley councillor added that it is important for members of the nationalist community to register any form of sectarian harassment.
"The NIAC have opened a web site so that people can leave details of all forms of sectarianism. It is important for nationalists to tell their experiences of loyalist attacks".
The NIAC web site is www.tellparliament.net/hatecrime and the online consultation will run for six weeks until 8 October.
Meanwhile, sectarian attacks orchestrated by unionist paramilitaries across the Six Counties continue.
Two Catholic men were treated for injuries in Altnagelvin hospital after they were assaulted when a group of loyalists smashed their way into a house in Bentley Terrace near the Glendermott Road in the Waterside area of Derry around 2am on Sunday 12 September.
Five men arrested by the PSNI, who used batons and CS spray when they confronted the loyalists, were later released on bail.
Sinn Féin Councillor Lynn Fleming said the attack was the latest in a series of sectarian attacks in the Triangle area of the Waterside, which has become a no go area for nationalists.
Meanwhile a paint bomb was thrown at a house in Long Tower Court on Tuesday 14 September.
The attack from the loylaist Fountain Estate, caused minor damage and no one was injured in the incident.
Limavady, County Derry
A window of a school bus carrying Catholic pupils from St Mary's High School and Limavady High School was broken when it was targeted in a stone throwing attack as it passed through the Irish Green Street area around 3.40 pm on Thursday 9 September. None of the pupils were injured.
Portadown, County Armagh
St John the Baptist Catholic Church on the Garvaghy Road in Portadown was damaged in a sectarian arson attack in the early hours of Saturday morning 11 September. Loyalists dpoured petrol over sheets of chipboard used by builders renovating the building, which they then set alight. Severe smoke and water damage was caused to the main building.
Ballymena, County Antrim
Sinn Féin activist Michael Agnew was warned on Tuesday 14 September that he was, "under imminent loyalist threat". According to Agnew, who recently discovered a loylalist bomb under a van parked outside his Ballymena home, the PSNI arrived at his door to tell him that loyalists were intending to attack him.
A 12-year-old schoolboy, a first year at St Malachy's College, was attacked by loyalist teenagers at a bus stop on the Antrim Road as he awaited his bus home.
Piarais Donnelly received six stitches after he was hit on the face with glass during the incident on Monday 13 September.
The attackers directed sectarian abuse at Piarais and some other pupils before hurling bottles and bricks at them. A second pupil was also injured in the incident.