6 October 2005 Edition

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Sectarianism News in Brief

GAA club targeted in bomb attack

Two weeks after GAA clubs across County Derry were warned of unionist paramilitary threats, an explosive device was left at the entrance to O'Donovan Rossa Club in Magherafelt.

The device was discovered on Monday night 26 September concealed in grass beside a gate leading to the club rooms by members arriving for a committee meeting.

The GAA club has been the target of several unionist pipe bomb attacks in recent years. St John's Catholic Church, which is situated yards away from the GAA club, was targeted last month.

Ballymena family targeted

A nationalist family had a lucky escape after a unionist paint-bomb attack on their County Antrim home in the early hours of Wednesday 28 September

At around 2.10am several paint bombs were thrown at the house in the Derramore area of Ballymena.

A similar attack took place at the home of a Catholic man in Ballymena on Monday 26 September.

Ballymoney incident

A couple and a three-year-old boy escaped serious injury in a unionist paramilitary pipe-bomb attack in Ballymoney on Thursday 29 September.

The device, which was left on the windowsill of the house in Carnany Drive, exploded sending pieces of steel into the living room.

Although the family inside was unhurt, damage was caused to the house and a car parked in the driveway.

Churches attacked

Sinn Féin has condemned an attack on Ian Paisley's Martyrs' Memorial Free Presbyterian Church in South Belfast, which caused more than £1,000 in damage.

Fourteen windows were broken after ball bearings were fired at the Ravenhill Road church during the attack on Friday 30 September.

South Belfast Assembly member Alex Maskey hit out at those responsible for the attack: "Whatever the motivation, attacks on churches are unacceptable and unwanted in this society. Those of us in political and community leadership need to make it clear that this sort of activity must end now."

Meanwhile a Methodist church in North Belfast has become the latest place of worship to be targeted in a series of sectarian attacks. In the early hours of Thursday 29 September Greencastle Methodist Church on the Whitewell Road had green paint thrown over the outside walls for the second time in a number of days.

On Tuesday Greencastle Methodist Church and Whitehouse Presbyterian Church were both attacked with paint bombs.

British bug Tyrone couple

A newly-married couple returned to their Coalisland home on Friday 23 September to discover that neighbours had disturbed an undercover British Army unit trying to install a listening device in their home.

Two men wearing balaclavas had pointed a gun at a neighbour of Kevin and Lorraine Murphy when they were detected moving about the couple's empty house.

After the incident local people said PSNI members entered the Murphy's house and escorted two men carrying holdalls from the premises to a PSNI Land Rover parked in the front garden.

Lorraine Murphy said that when she returned home there were pieces of felt missing from the roof and dust located around the skirting board as if had been removed and put on again.

Ms Murphy said her car had been tampered with in recent weeks. The couple's solicitor Peter Corrigan said he was concerned about the incident.

A spokesperson for the Police Ombudsman's Office confirmed that the office was investigating an "alleged incident" at the couple's unoccupied house.

Council funds sectarian bonfires

Unionist councillors on Belfast City Council have voted to give £100,000 in funding to unionist bonfires, despite the burning of effigies mocking Catholic suicides and posters of Sinn Féin representatives .

The council chose eight unionist areas to take part in a pilot project to encourage better management of 12 July bonfires after concerns raised about the increase in the number of bonfires in 2004.

A council report into bonfires at the eight designated sites found: UVF gunmen took part in a loyalist show of strength at Pitt Park in East Belfast; An effigy mocked suicides of Catholics in Ardoyne on the Westland bonfire in North Belfast; Election posters of Sinn Féin politicians were burned at Annadale in South Belfast; Multiple burnings of Irish Tricolours and erections of unionist paramilitary flags; and a UDA show of strength at a bonfire at Ballysillan in North Belfast.

The cost of the pilot scheme included funding of £48,000 and £60,000 in repair costs. Despite receiving almost double the complaints about unionist bonfires compared to 2004 unionist councillors have voted to go ahead and fund even more bonfires next year.

£20,000 awarded in discrimination case

A Catholic doctor who lodged a religious discrimination case against the Ulster Hospital after being turned down for a consultant's post has received £20,000 compensation.

Thirty-nine-year-old Colm McGurk was awarded the money by the Ulster Community and Hospitals Trust before the case went to a tribunal hearing.

While the trust did not admit liability it accepted that there were "deficiencies in its practices and procedures".

The trust acknowledged and apologised for the injury to feelings and distress caused to McGurk. It also confirmed that on his first of two applications for the post of Consultant Physician in the General Medicine Department of the Dundonald hospital in East Belfast in August 2001, Dr McGurk was suitable for the post.

Following McGurk's first interview in 2001, the panel failed to appoint him as a reserve candidate despite his extensive experience.

The post was re-advertised in February 2002 after the successful candidate turned down the appointment and Dr McGurk made an application to the Fair Employment Tribunal after being refused the position for the second time.

It has emerged that an uncle of Dr McGurk made headlines in 1929 when he was refused a scholarship on religious and political grounds.


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