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28 February 2002 Edition

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British neo-Nazis in North Belfast

BY LAURA FRIEL


A group of visiting British fascists were part of a loyalist mob involved in attacks on Catholic homes in North Belfast last week.

The neo-Nazis, calling themselves "Yorkshire Loyalists" and linked to the violent racist grouping known as "Combat 18", arrived in the city last weekend.

According to their website, the group were scheduled to stay with 'senior loyalists' while enjoying a 'tour' which included a visit to the Somme Museum at Fernhill House to "catch a bit of loyalist culture". The website also described Africans as "sub human scum" and calls on "whites to unite and kill Jews". The group said it was visiting North Belfast to "meet a few contacts" and "see where all the action takes place".

And as if on schedule, shortly after 11am on Saturday morning, the 'action' began. A loyalist mob, armed with baseball bats, bricks and even hurley sticks, began attacking the homes of Catholic residents.

A 50- to 60-strong loyalist mob moved out from Halliday Road onto the Limestone Road before attacking Catholic homes at Clianchatten. Clearly coordinated, loyalists attacked Catholic homes in Newington Street at the same time. According to local people, among the mob were a number of strangers sporting the fascist skinheads.

"We knew that this Yorkshire group were arriving on Friday night and we think these attacks were stage-managed for their benefit," said local Sinn Féin councillor Gerard Brophy.

The RUC/PSNI arrived in full riot gear but in instead of evicting loyalists from the area, they turned their attention towards nationalist residents attempting to defend their homes. "At one stage there were 15 jeeps in Newington Street," said Brophy.

Loyalists carrying batons and baseball bats were blatantly allowed to walk through the lines of RUC/PSNI vehicles into the Catholic district. "I pointed this out to the RUC," said Brophy, "but they remained intent on intimidating nationalist residents in their own streets." Three local residents were beaten and arrested.

In a further incident, around 50 loyalists gathered on Sunday morning at around 11am and attacked Catholic homes in Clianchatten and Parkend Street. A Catholic family, whose Parkend Street home has been targeted by loyalists 15 times within the last 11 months, have been told that they will not be rehoused.

The Newington Housing Association had said there is no permanent accommodation available for 23-year-old Donna McDaid and her two small daughters, aged six and three. The family's home faces onto the loyalist Tiger's Bay area. Seven weeks ago, Donna and her children had a narrow escape when a loyalist gunman opened fire on the house. Six shots were fired through the living room window.

"We are prisoners in our own home," said Donna. "The children can't play outside; if anyone approaches the house we're afraid. There's no family life here."

The Housing Association admitted that they were unable to meet the family's housing needs, describing the demand for housing as 'chronic', with over 150 urgent cases.


Loyalist incursions into nationalist areas in North Belfast at the weekend followed an abduction attempt in the Upper Donegal Street area the week before.
A car approached a Catholic man with its headlights dimmed. The man narrowly escaped as three men tried to seize him and drag him into the vehicle. A local taxi driver who intervened disturbed the gang.


North Belfast Assembly member Gerry Kelly has condemned a UDA death threat against a nationalist from the Duncairn Gardens area.
"The death threat must be lifted immediately," said Kelly, "this threat comes on the heels of UDA orchestrated attacks on houses at the weekend along the Limestone Road.


Contractors carrying out work at Carnmoney cemetery were forced to leave after being intimidated by the UDA. Two masked and armed loyalists visited the site and approached a number of workmen. The cemetery has been the target for loyalist intimidation before. Last year, a Catholic service had to be abandoned after loyalist bomb threats.

In the North Antrim and South Derry area, a series of pipe bomb attacks against Catholic premises and homes are believed to have been the work of the UVF. Over a dozen recent pipe bomb attacks have been claimed by a group calling itself the Protestant Volunteer Force, believed to be a cover name for the UVF. The most recent attack took place in the early hours of Tuesday morning on the outskirts of Magherafelt. The device was discover around 2.30am but was later declared a hoax.

• Last week, there were nine attacks within one day. At 10.30pm on Friday a pipe bomb was discovered in Kilrea, another at the junction of the Drumcroon and Moneycarry Road at Garvaghy. There were also bomb alerts along the Garvaghy to Maghera roadway, the Coleraine and Garvaghy Roads, and along Tobermore Road. Motorists travelling through the Glenshane Pass were diverted following bomb alerts. Swatragh GAA club and a bar in Maghera were targeted.

In a separate incident, the car of a Catholic teenager was petrol bombed while he was visiting his girlfriend in the loyalist Waterside area of Derry City.


• David Ervine of the PUP has denied UVF involvement in the current spate of pipe bombings but a senior member of the UVF has recently been spotted recruiting in the South Derry area.

The UVF, which claims to be on ceasefire, has recently been linked to the sectarian murder of Catholic teenager Ciaran Cummings and the car bombing of the Lammas Fair in Ballycastle last August. Sinn Féin's Mid Ulster MP Martin McGuiness, has described the incidents as a concerted loyalist campaign against the nationalist community. "By refusing to engage with and vilifying the political representatives of the nationalist community certain unionist politicians are creating the climate in which these attacks can take place," said McGuinness
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