2 April 2009 Edition
Challenge to micro groups behind hijackings plaguing communities: 'How will this advance a united Ireland?'
THE people behind a series of bomb scares and hijackings across west and north Belfast on Monday and Tuesday should explain how these actions will, in any shape or form, advance a united Ireland, Sinn Féin Assembly member Paul Maskey said this week as angry residents and workers dealt with the disruption.
Speaking to An Phoblacht, Maskey maintained:
“The catalogue of bomb scares and hijackings across north and west Belfast caused serious disruption to ordinary people going home from work or trying to get on with their everyday lives.
“Those responsible have no strategy. These actions are wrong and counter-productive to anything that our community wants.
“All that those who have closed off our arterial routes are responsible for is causing disruption to these communities. This includes republican, nationalist and unionist communities but mainly, if you look at where these alerts are, it is republican communities that are being affected the most.
“I would like to hear a spokesperson for those behind these alerts come forward and explain how this will, in any way, achieve a united Ireland.”
WHAT IS IT ABOUT?
The Sinn Féin politician went on to detail some of the incidents that took place on Monday:–
• In north Belfast, a Phoenix Gas van was hijacked and the young driver had his wallet stolen by the hijackers;
• Also in north Belfast, a man delivering pigeon feed had his van hijacked and money was stolen from him as well;
• On the Springfield Road, a public service vehicle was hijacked and the driver had petrol poured over him by the hijackers who then threatened to set him alight;
• In Andersonstown, a lemonade van was hijacked and abandoned outside Cooper’s Chemist and medical centre – in this incident, many elderly residents of nearby apartments had to be evacuated and were very disturbed at this;
• A vehicle was also burnt out at the back of Colinvale;
• At the top of the Suffolk Road, an Iceland van delivering groceries to local people was hijacked and partially burnt out by people who are known to have been involved in drug dealing;
• On the Stewartstown Road, paint bombs were taken off young people by republican activists – these young people, Paul Maskey said, were being “wound up” by elements connected to micro groups;
• Vehicles were also abandoned at Woodbourne, North Queen Street and the top of Brompton Park, all beside interfaces – Paul Maskey added that interface workers, along with Sinn Féin and community leaders, worked hard in these areas to ensure that any trouble did not spread.
There are questions to be asked and answered, the Sinn Féin MLA said.
“Whose hand is behind all of this? What is this all about?
“None of this will hinder the republican project or those of us in Sinn Féin working for a united Ireland.
“The people do not want this. There is no support for this.
“These groups should disappear and get off the backs of this community.’’
SERIOUS DISRUPTION: A lorry driver stuggles to pass a burnt out vehicle on the Springfield Road