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16 March 2006 Edition

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Sectarian upsurge in wake of UDA arrests

Claims that the UDA intends to end it's sectarian campaign have been dismissed, as nationalists across the North face an upsurge in loyalist death theats and sectarian attacks.

Dismissing the UDA statement Sinn Féin's Martin McGuinness said "we need to hear and see from the UDA evidence that their violent campaign against Catholics is over".

In the past week a Sinn Féin councillor in Banbridge, County Down was given a death threat while a number of North Belfast taxi firms were warned they are being targeted. Meanwhile homes and cars were attacked in Derry and a Catholic church daubed with graffiti in East Belfast

Banbridge Sinn Féin councillor Dessie Ward has been warned by the PSNI last week that unionist paramilitaries are currently targeting him.

Nationalists in North Belfast are on high alert after death threats were delivered to the homes of a number of Catholic taxi drivers by the PSNI on Tuesday 7 March.

The latest threats come on the back of an attempt by the UDA to kill a taxi driver last week in Ligoniel.

In the Waterside area of Derry in the early hours of Thursday, 9 March a number of nationalist owned homes and cars in two estates were damaged in sustained attacks by loyalists

Sinn Féin Mayor of Derry Lynn Fleming said loyalists were intending to raise sectarian tensions in the areas in the run up to the Orange marching season.

Meanwhile a Catholic priest in East Belfast has described an attack on his church, whose congregation includes Filipino, South African, Asian and European families, as sectarian and racist. Father Paddy Downey made his remarks after excrement and racist and sexual graffiti were daubed inside St Colmcille's on the Upper Newtownards Road in East Belfast on Thursday evening 9 March.

"I think those responsible are influenced by their environment and think that someone who comes from abroad must be lesser and talked about with this sort of language. Foreign nationals are vital to our congregation and community and are enthusiastic. The young people serve on the altar, we have adults in the choir and on the parish pastoral council".

This latest sectarian attack followed an incident on Sunday 5 March when graffitti were scrawled on posters and a banner in the church.


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