24 January 2002 Edition
Thousands at anti-sectarian rallies... with some notable exceptions
Last Friday, tens of thousands of people braved the rain to attend an ICTU-organised anti-sectarian rally in the wake of the UDA killing of postal worker Daniel McColgan.
But as the hype began to subside, cracks in the show of solidarity were apparent. Consignia, the company who owns the Post Office, shrouded itself in ignominy by refusing to pay postal workers who refused to return to work until the UDA lifted its death threat against them. An Phoblacht has also learned that the workers in three postal sorting offices in the predominantly loyalist areas of Lisburn, Coleraine and Portadown ignored the strike call and turned up for work in the aftermath of the UDA killing of Daniel O'Hagan.
Most post office workers throughout the North stayed out in a show of solidarity with the McColgan family and their fellow Catholic workers who were under threat from the UDA and demanded that the death threat be lifted.
The Communication Workers' Union (CWU) has said that it will challenge the decision by Consignia to withhold payment to workers.
According to Consignia, the company is willing to pay workers for time off up until lunchtime on Tuesday 15 January when Daniel McColgan was buried but is unwilling to pay its workers until Thursday, when they decided to go back to work.
Controversy also surrounds the absence of DUP ministers Peter Robinson and Nigel Dodds from last Friday's rally in Belfast.
Both Sinn Féin ministers Martin McGuinness and Bairbre de Brún attended the rally in Belfast as did those from the SDLP and UUP ministers, but both the DUP ministers claimed they had departmental and ministerial commitments that they couldn't change.
Up to 30,000 people attended the series of rallies organised by the Irish Congress of Trades Unions (ICTU) against the threats to both the postal workers and teachers and ancillary staff in Catholic schools.
Workers turned up for rallies in Derry, Omagh and Belfast.
North Belfast man cheats death
North Belfast Catholic Ciaran Delaney says he is lucky to be alive after a gang of loyalists tried to pull him from his car at the junction of the Ligoniel and Upper Crumlin Roads.
The incident occurred on the same day, 10 January, as a loyalist gang attacked the Lady of Mercy School on nearby Bilston Road in Ballysillan. The young man was sitting at the traffic lights at the bottom of the Ligoniel Road when he spotted a gang of loyalists standing across from him at a chip shop.
Sinn Féin councillor Eoin Ó Broin warned nationalists to be vigilant and to show "the utmost care at the junction of Ligoniel and Crumlin Roads" as it is a favourite spot for loyalists intent on attacking nationalists.
Hoax bomb attack on Maskey home
A device found outside the Andersonstown home of Sinn Féin assembly member Alex Maskey was described as an elaborate hoax.
The 8-inch long metal device was spotted by Maskey's son lying in the garden of the Maskey home at about lunch time on Tuesday 22 January.
It is not known when the device was left at the Sinn Féin representative's home.
Speaking to An Phoblacht outside the Maskey home, Sinn Féin councillor Gerard O'Neill said the device may have been thrown at the house but hit a tree in the garden and fell to the ground.
Although the device turned out to be an elaborate hoax, Maskey said he was taking the threat seriously, adding that in recent weeks the RUC/PSNI had warned a number of Sinn Féin activists that a loyalist attack was imminent.
Flag of convenience threat
Within hours of the Red Hand Defenders statement saying they were standing down, the RUC/PSNI warned two men from the nationalist Markets area in South Belfast they were under a death threat from the RHD.
The revelation came last Wednesday 16 January, when Sinn Féin Assembly member Alex Maskey disclosed that the RUC/PSNI visited two Catholic men at their work at Eglantine Avenue in South Belfast to warn them they were under threat of death threat.
Maskey rubbished the claim that it was the RHD behind the threat saying, "it was more a case of the UDA from South Belfast masquerading under the guise of the Red Hand Defenders, as it has done for many months previously, in a vain attempt to cover up its role in the ongoing sectarian pogrom across the north".