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11 July 2002 Edition

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Nationalists braced for Twelfth violence

Nationalist communities throughout the Six Counties are bracing themselves for this year's sectarian Twelfth parades which are taking place against a background of widespread UDA and UVF violence directed at vulnerable nationalist areas.

The scenes of Orangemen rioting at Drumcree on Sunday, while not as intense as in other years, indicate that the underlying violence that accompanies these sectarian parades is still as much a part of the spectacle as the bowler hats and collarettes.

Promises by the leadership of the Orange Order to discipline any Orangemen engaged in violent confrontations make fine copy for the media but, as in the past, are unlikely to result in action.

Similarly, despite risible assurances from loyalists of a 'no first strike' policy towards nationalists, the pages of this paper record just some of the recent attacks that they have carried out. Their campaign is more likely to escalate as the crescendo of loyalism's annual orgy of bigotry and violence approaches.

David Trimble, John Reid, and many others in the unionist and British political leadership are doing little or nothing to prevent the likelihood of violence or even lost lives.

This weekend will see nationalist enclaves such as the Short Strand in East Belfast and Ardoyne in North Belfast sealed off by hundreds of Crown Force personnel. British soldiers and members of the PSNI, who have been unable to protect vulnerable nationalist areas from an ongoing loyalist campaign of sectarian violence for many months, will be demonstrating their ability to facilitate Orangemen and their triumphalist parades.

Meanwhile, nationalists in the Springfield Road in West Belfast are calling for support for two protests they are organising against an Orange parade through the area on Friday. The first protest will be at 8.30am as Orangemen go to join the main Belfast parade while the second protest is organised for 6.30pm.

 

Kilkeel youth savagely beaten



An 18-year-old Catholic youth related to the Greene family, who lost three of their relatives in the Kilkeel fishing tragedy, was savagely beaten by loyalists in the early hours of Saturday morning 6 July.

The youth, who does not wish to be named, was beaten unconscious in the attack, which happened as he left a bar in Kilkeel town centre at 2am on Saturday.

The young man was kicked unconscious and woke up in Daisy Hill Hospital, in Newry where he had to have 13 stitches to his face. He was also treated for extensive bruising all over his body.

"They were out to kill me," he said.

The attack took place just 50 metres from the RUC/PSNI station, but when the young man reported the incident to the RUC/PSNI he was told that if he heard or saw anything to contact them.

"The RUC/PSNI could have done more. There was no RUC/PSNI about Kilkeel when those loyalists attacked me," he said.

Local Sinn Féin councillor Martin Cunningham said "this young man is very lucky to be alive. This crowd set out to kill him, this was attempted murder".

He said that earlier in the evening the same loyalist gang had gone on the rampage and attacked five other nationalists, trying to push a broken bottle into the face of one. They stole watches from two of these people. The also attacked Catholic owned homes in Kilkeel breaking a number of windows.

A local resident said they went to the RUC/PSNI to see if they had recorded the attacks but were told "there was no tape in the camera".

Meanwhile, Martin Cunningham criticised media reports that a young Protestant youth who was beaten up two weeks before had been beaten by nationalists. According to Cunningham, the youth was beaten by loyalists, who targeted him because he was going out with a Catholic girl.

 

Springfield Road homes attacked



The home and car of a young couple on the Springfield Road in West Belfast were attacked at around 5am on Sunday, 7 July, after a gang of six loyalists forced their way through the Lanark Way security gate.

The loyalists broke the windows of the car belonging to the couple and then threw a brick through the living room window of their home. A pregnant woman asleep on the sofa in the room escaped injury. A neighbour who heard the commotion ran on to the street only to be told by the gang that they would kill him.

Pauline Ewing told An Phoblacht, "I was shaking when I looked out the bedroom window and saw these loyalists breaking the car windows with a hammer and then the living room window. We were lucky it could have been a pipe or petrol bomb".

Windows of flats facing the couple's home were also broken in the early morning onslaught.


Newington Avenue targeted again



Sinn Féin has condemned a pipe bomb attack on a house in Newington Avenue at the weekend, saying the UDA was responsible.

The attack happened around 9.45pm on Saturday night, 6 July, when the bomb, which only partially exploded was thrown from the loyalist Tigers Bay. It landed in the back of the house and no one was injured.

Sinn Féin councillor Gerard Brophy hit out at loyalist spokesperson John White, who claimed that the UDA are keeping a lid on things and "exercising restraint" in the area.

This attack came just days after it was revealed that the RUC/PSNI had sought permission from the NIO to remove a security barrier from the bottom of Newington Street "for operational reasons".

One resident told An Phoblacht: "The idea of removing this barrier is sheer madness, especially as the attacks on this area by the UDA continue. There have been three people murdered and eight attempted murders by loyalists in this street and they are continuing to attack us."

An Phoblacht has been told that the NIO refused to allow the RUC/PSNI to remove the barrier.


Bible from Paisley's church found with UVF arms



A UVF arms haul discovered during a search of a house in the Drumtara area of Ballymena on Wednesday 3 July also contained a Free Presbyterian bible and a typed oath of allegiance to the UVF.

Two sawn-off shotguns, a single barrelled shotgun, three handguns and components for pipe bombs were among the haul. The discovery comes amid increased activity by the UVF in the area as well as an increase in UVF attacks on nationalists in South and East Belfast.

Sources have also told An Phoblacht that renegade members of the UVF were behind the killing of Catholic teenager Ciaran Cummings, who was gunned down in Antrim town a year ago.

Sinn Féin councillor for North Antrim Philip McGuigan told An Phoblacht, "It is very disturbing to see a bible and an oath of allegiance for new recruits found among this arms haul. It proves the UVF are recruiting new members in the Ballymena area".


Petrol bombings in Magherafelt



Three Catholic families living in the Leckagh estate in Magherafelt South Derry had narrow escapes after their houses were attacked with petrol bombs by loyalists on Wednesday evening, 3 July.

A 37-year-old man arrested after the sectarian attacks, in which anti-Catholic slogans were daubed on one house, was charged with attempted intimidation and disorderly behaviour.

Two women were taken to hospital and treated for shock after a petrol bomb was hurled into their Leckagh Drive home. Two devices caused damage to the front door and the inside of a conservatory at a neighbouring house. A third house on the estate had sectarian slogans painted on it and a fifth petrol bomb exploded beside a tree.

The attacks signal an intensification of a long running loyalist campaign against Catholics in the Magherafelt area in recent weeks, said Sinn Féin's John Kelly, vice-chair of Magherafelt District Council.

"The UDA in South Derry are behind all these attacks and are intent in raising tensions in the area. A 50-year-old Catholic man was told to leave his Leckagh Drive home before he was burned out in June and the number of Catholic families on this estate has halved in the last few years. I would ask nationalists to be vigilant," said Kelly.


Pensioner's home firebombed



A 61-year-old Catholic woman escaped a loyalist petrol bomb attack on her home in North Parade off the Upper Ormeau Road in South Belfast last Thursday 4 July.

The woman was lying in bed watching television at around 11pm when she heard a loud bang and discovered a breeze block had been thrown through her front living room window. A petrol bomb had also been thrown but it landed in the garden after it hit the window frame.

The woman's son said that his mother had lived in the area for a long time was very shaken about the sectarian attack.

The Upper Ormeau area has been tense over the past week after the UDA put up loyalist flags and bunting along the road.

Belfast Mayor Alex Maskey has laid the blame for the attack at the feet of the UDA and said the attack was designed to kill.


Residents fearful of the Twelfth



Around 100 loyalists attacked the nationalist Rathenraw estate in Antrim at 11.30pm on Monday night, 8 July.

A number of residents were injured as the loyalists attacked them with sticks and batons, one suffering bruising over his entire body.

Residents were terrified as the loyalists ran amok, while there was only a sole RUC/PSNI Land Rover was in the area. A tense standoff commenced between local residents and the crowd of loyalists.

Sinn Féin South Antrim councillor Martin Meehan tried to reassure local residents by intervening in the situation.

The situation was eventually calmed at about midnight although later that night the same loyalists attacked Catholic houses on the Styles estate, breaking windows including those of a 79-year-old woman who has lived in the same house for 30 years. She had all the windows at the front of her home broken and has now decided to leave the area.

Speaking to An Phoblacht, Meehan said: "The UDA are determined to put nationalists out of the Antrim area, but I can tell them the people of Rathenraw are not for moving. The silence of Unionist politicians towards these attacks on Catholics is deafening, just the way they are not condemning the attacks on nationalist communities across the North."

 

Catholic family escapes gun attack



Five shots were fired through the living room of a Catholic family in Coleraine, County Derry on Monday night 8 July as they slept.

The man, his wife and their four children, aged 11 to 18, were in bed when loyalists fired through the living room window of their Quickthorn Place home in the staunchly loyalist Harpers Hill area of the town.

A petrol bomb thrown through the back window of the family car failed to ignite.

No one was injured but the family were traumatised. Last year a pipe bomb was thrown through the window of their home.

The family, who have lived in the area for over 30 years, are now thinking of moving.

In June, RUC/PSNI members fired shots in the air to disperse a crowd of up to 40 loyalists who chased two Catholic men through in the Somerset Drive area of the town.


Family with Catholic lodger petrol bombed

A Protestant family who had a Catholic man lodging with them escaped injury when two petrol bombs were hurled at their Stiles home in Antrim. The attack happened just after midnight on Wednesday 10 July.

The Catholic man had been burned out of his home on the Stiles Estate earlier this year. The devices were thrown at the window of the room where the man was sleeping. One hit the window frame and exploded causing minor damage while the other failed to ignite.

Later on Wednesday, as Sinn Féin councillors for Antrim Martin Meehan and Martin McManus met with the residents of the Stiles estate to discuss ongoing sectarian attacks, a car belonging to a member of the community association was rammed by two cars containing loyalists.

 

Beating the sectarian drum at Drumcree


BY LAURA FRIEL



    
As a violent confrontation at the barrier ensued, some Orangemen walked away, others took off their sashes before joining in the fray, while others fought still dressed in their full regalia
The fact that members of the Orange Order engaged in violent confrontation at Drumcree comes as no surprise to residents living along the Garvaghy Road or even the wider northern nationalist community.

For the Belfast Newsletter, scenes of Orangemen spitting at PSNI officers, hurling bricks and insults, and cheering each other along was "not in keeping with the high standards the institution wishes to represent" nor "compatible with the godly standards the organisation promotes and expects its members to profess".

But as two recently released International Observer reports into Orange parades during the previous two summers show, violent confrontation is neither an unusual corollary to Orange Order parades nor confined to Drumcree.

"The atmosphere of most parades was tense. The continued antagonism of some parade participants, parade supporters and police seemed designed to incite the nationalist communities, often leaving residents of those communities beleaguered and frightened," write representatives from Irish American lawyers' group, the Brehan Law Society.

While in Belfast, an observer from the International Irish Parades Emergency Committee recorded that "spectators accompanying the parade heckled nationalist residents. The body language of these Orange supporters was aggressive and triumphalist, including pumping fists, jeering and dancing. One man yelled, 'Fuck the Pope'. Parade supporters taunted residents, yelling and gesturing in a threatening manner."

But in a sense, the Parades Commission's code of conduct already says it all. Appendix B refers to the behaviour of parade participants.

"Where the majority population of the vicinity are of a different tradition and in interface areas, behaviour should be respectful. There should be no excessively loud drumming. Participants should refrain from conduct, words, music or behaviour which could reasonably be perceived as intentionally sectarian, provocative, threatening, abusive, insulting or lewd."

The overwhelming majority of annual parades, around 3,000, are Orange Order parades. Furthermore, nationalists have largely adopted a policy of voluntary rerouting away from contentious areas.

Clearly, while the Commissions' rules are couched in general rather than specific terms, they reflect the main preoccupation of the Commission's most contentious decisions, the rerouting of Orange and other Loyal Order parades away from nationalist areas.

The Parades Commission did not arbitrarily pluck the images evoked by these guidelines, of Orange Order parades as sectarian, provocative and aggressive, out of thin air. Rather they reflect problems experience on the ground has identified.

This is not a republican, or even a nationalist, representation of Orange parades but that of an official British government established body.

Presented with such uncomfortable truths, a period of quiet reflection might be considered appropriate. Clearly many Orangemen regard themselves as a primarily religious grouping. The annual march to Drumcree is part of a church parade to a commemorative service marking the loss of life at the Somme.

Surely if this is the main impetus for the parade to Drumcree, marching through the nationalist Garvaghy Road is a mere distraction - a distraction better discarded in the interests of community relations.

But given the Orange Order's persistent preoccupation with parading through nationalist areas and the antics of their members and supporters which accompanies such parades, how can anyone, especially those on the receiving end of Orange contempt, understand the Order as anything other that a charade of pious bigotry and besuited thuggery?

The Orange Order's response to calls for restraint and criticism has not been reflection but further antagonism. If Orangemen feel as if "everyone is against them", it's because they are increasingly defining themselves as against everyone else.

Thus, addressing Orangemen on Drumcree Hill, local Orange Order leader David Burrows lost no opportunity to inflame the sectarian passions of his audience and heighten their sense of grievance. Parades Commission chairperson Tony Holland was pursuing a 'green' agenda and the British Secretary of State, John Reid didn't want to upset his "fellow Celtic supporters" Burrows told Orangemen at Drumcree.

Twenty-four hours earlier, at a rally of Orange supporters in Glasgow, DUP Assembly member Nigel Dodds was already lighting the touch paper.

"First we lost the B Specials, then our Parliament at Stormont, next we lost the UDR and more recently the RUC. Now the Orange Institution is being targeted," said Dodds. "Republicans, with the connivance of the British government, have set about dismantling every institution the British people of Northern Ireland hold dear."

Dodds' sentiments were akin to the White Supremacist's wistful mourning of the passing of Apartheid and were just as inappropriate and inflammatory. Of course Nigel Dodds wasn't at Drumcree to throw the first punch. And David Burrows didn't leap from the platform to lead the charge.


Assurances that the protest would be 'peaceful' and 'dignified', accompanied by the decision of prominent loyalist paramilitaries to stay away, had been reciprocated by those tasked with enforcing the Parades Commission's ruling. The security cordon dividing Orange marchers from the Garvaghy Road had been scaled down.

The characterisation that violence at Drumcree was the work of outsiders, of UDA or LVF supporters rather than members of the Orange Order, was always a myth and by pandering to it the PSNI/RUC was forced to pay the price.

As a violent confrontation at the barrier ensued, some Orangemen walked away, others took off their sashes before joining in the fray, while others fought still dressed in their full regalia. Indeed in some instances parts of the regalia, rolled black umbrellas, were utilised as offensive weapons.

Within a few hours the violence was over but the hypocrisy continued. "It is too easy to forget that the real problem at Drumcree is the intransigence of residents, who seem determined to humiliate the local Orangemen before deigning to even consider the prospect of enduring Orange feet on the Garvaghy Road," read the Newsletter editorial the following day.

After enduring years of sectarian persecution by Orangemen in the name of Drumcree, a request by residents of the Garvaghy Road for face-to-face dialogue with the Orange Order is apparently too humiliating a prospect for Portadown Orangemen to concede.

Even the Newsletter finds such a prospect too much to contemplate, but Catholic residents aside, the editorial advises against the Orange Order's continuing refusal to speak directly to the Parades Commission.

Orangemen "have come to despise the Parades Commission with the same level of passion once reserved for those who speak for the residents", writes the Newsletter, but when it comes to parading through the nationalist Garvaghy Road, the Orange Order have "a compelling case" and this needs to be "argued in the right places, even if that means supping with the enemy".

Meanwhile, speaking from the bedside of an injured PSNI officer, UUP leader and Assembly First Minister David Trimble said: "Those Orangemen who engaged in an attack on the police let themselves down, let the institution down and I hope very much that the leadership of the Orange Order look at this very carefully to see what can be done."

Church of Ireland Primate Robin Eames described the violence as "deplorable" and "completely unacceptable" but continued to fan the flames of the Orange Order's sense of grievance.

"Nothing must be allowed to deter our determination to find a solution which will honour the deeply held views of the two communities involved. Violence can have no place in that solution. A solution is possible and it must emerge soon," said Eames.

Moral leadership requires moral courage. Instead of feeding Orange hopes of reinstating the primacy of their demands, Robin Eames would do better to tell them the truth. Rerouting is a solution. It can be an equable solution.

There is nothing intrinsically 'humiliating' about re routing a parade to facilitate the wishes of local residents. Nationalists don't feel lessened or diminished by rerouting away from predominantly Protestant or loyalist estates and have repeatedly done so on a voluntary basis.

Rerouting allows Orangemen to pay tribute to their dead and honour their faith with dignity while leaving their Catholic neighbours in peace.

 

"No first strike policy" a joke: O'Donnell




Sinn Féin councillor Joe O'Donnell has branded the loyalist 'no first strike policy' a joke. He was reacting to a bomb attack on the home of a nationalist family in the Short Strand area of East Belfast at just after midnight on Thursday morning 4 July.

Martina McGuigan, her partner Darren Carlisle and the couple's three children were at home when the bomb, which was thrown at a bedroom window of their Bryson Court home, bounced off and landed in the back yard, where it exploded.

Bryson Court is on the interface and has been under constant attack from loyalists. Due to this, the couple's children were asleep on mattresses in a front room. Normally the children would have been asleep at the back of the house.

"It's terrifying to thing what would have happened if the children had been in the back rooms and the bomb came through that window," said Martina.

The couple believe the bomber climbed on to the roof of a house in the loyalist Susan Street before throwing the device.

At present the 'peaceline' wall in Bryson Street is being heightened but both Martina McGuigan and Darren Carlisle don't believe it will make any difference to their lives if the loyalists on the other side insist on carrying out their attacks.

Speaking to An Phoblacht Sinn Féin's Joe O'Donnell said, "since the announcement of their 'no first strike policy' nationalist families have been attacked with bricks, bottles, pipe bombs and pipe bombs. This violence is one sided. I would challenge members of the Loyalist Commission to explain exactly what they mean by a 'no first strike policy".

Meanwhile it has been disclosed that a Short Strand woman is taking Police Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan to court. Kelly Ann Johnson is seeking a judicial review of the Ombudsman's failure to investigate her complaint against an RUC/PSNI inspector who she says refused to act in order to allow her to bring her sick son to the doctor's surgery on the Newtownards Road.


 Sinn Féin welcomes Mourne Park 11th Night decision



West Tyrone Sinn Féin Assembly member Barry McElduff has welcomed the decision by the Parades Commission to put restrictions on the 11th night loyalist Band Parade in Newtownstewart.

"This move is long overdue and I now hope that residents in Mourne Park ad Mourne Walk will now be able to get on with their lives on the 11th night, free from violence, intimidation and fear," he said.

The determination sees the parade rerouted away from the mainly nationalist Mourne Park area of the town. The Parade organisers were to appeal the decision on Wednesday.

Sinn Féin councillors Charlie McHugh and Seán Begley met with the Commission the previous week to discuss what they described as the 'yearly nightmare' of the marching season for nationalist residents of both Newtownstewart and Castlederg. They made it clear that despite repeated representations, the Commission had failed to take affirmative action to impose restrictions on either of the contentious routes or to impose sanctions on parades where the stipulated guidelines as regards conduct were continually flouted.

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