28 July 2005 Edition
Sectarian campaign in North Antrim continues
Unionist paramilitaries have continued their sectarian pogrom against the nationalist population of North Antrim. The past week witnessed a series of attacks on Catholic churches in Ballymena and two nationalist-owned pubs in the early hours of Tuesday 26 July.
Speaking to An Phoblacht Sinn Féin MLA Philip McGuigan hit out at a local PSNI commander who linked the attacks in Ballymena, Martinstown and Rasharkin to a proposed parade, through the predominately nationalist part of Ballymena on 9 August. The parade by a local flute band commemorates United Irishman William Orr.
In the latest attacks white and blue paint was thrown at Crebilly Church on the outskirts of the town, while Ballymena's main Catholic Church, All Saints was attacked with paint bombs.
The previous day the Church of Our Lady at Harryville, the scene of a loyalist picket in the 1990s, was daubed with anti-Catholic slogans. Some of the slogans included reference to the proposed August parade, such as 'No IRA marches'.
Around the same time unionist petrol bombers threw a device through the front window of the Glensway Tavern, a nationalist-owned public house in Martinstown, setting the lounge alight and causing serious damage to the building. Also, the remains of two petrol bombs were found outside a bar in Raskarkin.
Since the middle of July, four nationalist-owned pubs in the area have been targeted by unionist paramilitaries. The Diamond Bar in Ahoghill was attacked two Sundays ago and the Halfway House near Broughshane was attacked last Wednesday night.
McGuigan slammed the PSNI who claim the attacks are originating from the proposal by the flute band to hold a commemoration in the town.
"PSNI Chief Steve Martin is conveniently ignoring the history of sectarian attacks against the nationalist community carried out by unionist paramilitaries in North Antrim and his comments are only giving succour to sectarian violence."
The North Antrim MLA said he had been contacted by a number of local people who are angry at Martin's comments and accused him, "of ignoring the fact that the sectarian violence has all to do with the irrational hatred of Catholics and nationalists in Ballymena".
"Martin has intentionally ignored the facts that for the past 30 years Catholics in Ballymena and the surrounding areas have been on the receiving end of brutal sectarian attacks orchestrated by unionist paramilitaries."
McGuigan called on nationalist to be very vigilant in the coming weeks.