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1 August 2002 Edition

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No respite for Short Strand

The loyalist pogrom against nationalists from the Short Strand area of Belfast has left two residents from the area needing hospital treatment after being struck with bricks.

A six-year-old girl who had just returned from holiday was hit on the head by a brick thrown from the loyalist Cluan Place on Wednesday 24 July, resulting in the child receiving eight stitches, while a man received a serious head injury after being hit on Monday night 29 July.

In a more sinister development, it emerged that on Sunday night 28 July, loyalists in Cluan Place erected a video camera, with a floodlight attached, on a house overlooking the Short Strand.

Residents of the area are accusing the loyalists of using the camera to spy on them and have also accused the RUC/PSNI of standing by while the camera was being put in place.

As An Phoblacht goes to press, Sinn Féin's Joe O'Donnell has told An Phoblacht that loyalist gangs continued their bombardment of the area through Tuesday night 30 July.

"Everything from bricks to bottles and fireworks were thrown across the wall at Clandeboye Drive at regular intervals during the night and into the early hours of Wednesday morning," he reported.


Teen girl assaulted



The father of a 15-year-old girl has criticised RUC/PSNI members who refused to help his injured daughter after she was attacked by loyalists.

The girl and her three friends were going to a party in the Suffolk estate on the outskirts of West Belfast just yards from the massive Woodbourne RUC/PSNI base on Friday 26 July when they were accosted by a gang of loyalist youths. A gang of older girls emerged from Blacks Road and started to attack them.

"I was dragged by my hair along the footpath and my friend was knocked unconscious. I thought they were going to kill us," said Louise Tierney. She managed to break free and ran to Woodbourne RUC/PSNI barracks for help.

An RUC/PSNI officer opened the gate after she banged on it for five minutes, took her name and phoned for an ambulance, but said they were too busy to do anything else.

Louise's father Jim said the RUC/PSNI "refused to arrest the perpetrators of this attack even though they stood and mocked the girls as they were being loaded into the ambulance". Tierney said he will be contacting his solicitor and is calling on the Police Ombudsman to launch an investigation into why his battered and bleeding daughter was refused help.


Ballynahinch Catholics attacked



A 47-year-old Catholic mother has hit out at loyalists who carried out an unprovoked attack on her and her family last Sunday morning 28 July at 1am.

A gang of about 20 to 30 loyalists took part in the attack which saw the woman, her husband and son and daughter as well as a friend of the family assaulted in Ballynahinch, County Down.

The woman maintains that the 30-strong gang was waiting for the first Catholics that came along to attack them and it just happened to be her family. The couple and their children were taken to hospital, where they were treated for cuts and bruising, while their male friend received several staples to a head wound.

The woman explained that her 21-year-old daughter, who had suffered from asthma in the past, has been forced to resume taking medication for the condition after her lung spasmed during the incident.


Loyalist was on scouting mission



A loyalist discovered by local people in the Falls Road area of West Belfast on the night of 10 July was on a scouting mission, An Phoblacht has been told.

According to information we have been given, the loyalist was first spotted coming up the Donegall Road from the loyalist Village area, where he had been hanging out with other loyalists near a bonfire.

The loyalist was riding a pushbike and was seen speaking to members of an RUC/PSNI patrol, who drove off as he cycled on up the Donegall Road to the Falls Road.

The loyalist was then seen acting suspiciously around the Falls area when a group of local people came across him a second time. When confronted, he was found to have a substantial amount of drugs in his possession and he admitted that he was working with a well-known leading loyalist from the Village.

The man, who was held for a short time, named the top loyalist and admitted that he was on the Falls targeting Catholics. He also revealed that the top loyalist was organising a rave in the area on the Eleventh night and admitted that he was involved in supplying drugs for the rave.

We have also been told that when the loyalist didn't return to the Village, a gang of loyalists gathered at the Broadway Roundabout. The man was released without harm and was sent back to the loyalist area. Within hours, the RUC/PSNI flooded the area.

Around the same time that this was happening, local man Michael Rafferty was set upon by loyalists at the bottom of the Donegall Road and was badly beaten. Rafferty said that the loyalists were trying to abduct him but he held on to the railings of the Park Centre and they beat until they were disturbed.

Local people who spoke to An Phoblacht explained that tension at the Broadway/Donegall Road area heightens every Twelfth and local people always have to be on their guard.


Loyalist wrecking spree in Fermanagh

For the second week in a row, Fermanagh loyalists have damaged cars and painted sectarian slogans on Catholic homes in the Windmill Heights housing estate on the outskirts of Enniskillen.

One man was arrested by the RUC/PSNI after a crowd of loyalists carrying a UVF flag and shouting UVF slogans attacked cars. Residents were awoken in the early hours of Saturday 20 July by the sound of car windscreens being broken. One resident was struck on the leg with a flagpole as he tried to stop the loyalists from causing more damage to his car.

A brick was thrown at one car, breaking its front window; another loyalist broke the back window with a flagpole and a third started to strike the car with a baseball bat. The loyalist painted UVF and 'taigs out' slogans on a gable wall.

A man was arrested and charged with criminal damage, disorderly behaviour and assault.


UDA Derry death threats


The UDA is bent on increasing sectarian tensions throughout Derry after the loyalist terror gang issued death threats against Catholics living in Protestant areas of the county. The threat, delivered to a local newsroom on Thursday 25 July, singled out Catholics living in the Waterside area in Derry City saying that Catholics "will not be tolerated in Protestant areas of the Waterside".

In their statement, the UDA also claimed responsibility for shooting a Catholic teenager in the leg last week in Derry, saying it was a measured military response to ongoing attacks on Protestant homes in the Fountain area of Derry and on homes in Limavady. It bore a striking resemblance to the UDA statement released in the wake of the sectarian killing of Gerard Lawlor in Belfast.

Sectarian trouble has been ongoing in and around the Fountain estate in Derry City and at one point the UDA's Derry and North Antrim Brigadier was spotted with other loyalists in the Fountain estate during recent attacks on nationalists, including pipe bomb attacks.

Sinn Féin councillor for the Waterside, Lynn Fleming, described the threat as appalling but not surprising. "It is very obvious that the UDA are intent on bringing their anti-Catholic sectarian pogrom to Derry," she said. "They have been behind numerous pipe bombings and gun attacks in the Northwest, culminating in the shooting of the young man last week in Heron Way in the Waterside. They are motivated solely by sectarian bigotry."

The Sinn Féin councillor urged nationalists to be vigilant and appealed for no one to be drawn into a cycle of sectarian hate.


Workers harassed by loyalists



A group of workers going into the Teletech call centre in North Belfast were stopped by a crowd of loyalists and asked their religion on Thursday 25 July. The staff were then prevented from going into their place of work, which is situated on the interface at Duncairn Gardens between the New Lodge and loyalist Tigers Bay.

One worker told An Phoblacht that about four people were asked their religion, adding that "some of the staff didn't come into work as they felt threatened".

Sinn Féin councillor Gerard Brophy condemned the threats, saying that people should be allowed to go to their place of work unhindered.

The harassment comes after it was revealed that the call centre is considering its future at the North Belfast site because of ongoing sectarian violence. It was hoping to increase its workforce by another 200 from the present 300 employees within the next year. However, this is now under threat because of this latest incident.

On Friday 26 July, RUC/PSNI and British Army patrols were stationed outside the building to protect workers coming off their shift as they felt threatened by ongoing loyalist violence.


RUC criticised over loyalist attack



A Catholic mother of two has lambasted the RUC/PSNI for not dealing with a loyalist mob that attacked her house and car. The woman, who wishes to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals, described how a commotion outside her Westland Gardens home started in the early hours of Saturday 20 July when loyalists started shouting outside her door.

Although the woman called the RUC/PSNI, they failed to respond to her plea for help. Around an hour later, the house was attacked with bottles. "It was one loyalist on his own; my husband and a neighbour gave the RUC/PSNI a full description of him but they refused to go into Westland and arrest him," she said.


Ardoyne man says RUC/PSNI set him up


An Ardoyne man and his partner who received a sinister death threat from the UDA say they were set up by the RUC/PSNI.

The man, who does not wish to be named, told An Phoblacht that a parcel arrived at his partner's Ardoyne home last Thursday morning, 25 July. It was addressed to both the man and his partner and contained a shotgun cartridge and a letter purporting to come from the UDA's C Company, which is based in the Lower Shankill.

The man says he is not registered as living at the house to which the parcel was sent and he believes the RUC/PSNI played some part in setting him up.

"The RUC/PSNI were at the house looking for me a number of weeks ago," he said. "It is not my house and there is nothing to connect me with it. I believe that the only way the loyalists could have got this information is through the RUC/PSNI."

Sinn Féin councillor for the area, Margaret McClenaghan, said that "in a period that has seen a concerted effort by loyalists to kill members of the nationalist community, culminating in the death of Gerard Lawlor, the UDA are intent on continuing their murder campaign; this threat is a clear indication of their intentions".


Hoods torch community worker's home


West Belfast community worker Sean Osborne says that the thugs who torched his house in the early hours of Friday morning July 26 won't intimidate him.

Speaking to An Phoblacht hours after his home in the St James' area was targeted by "thugs and car thieves", Osborne explained that his attackers piled up rubbish at his front door, which they then doused in a flammable liquid and set alight. The ensuing blaze caused extensive scorch damage to the outside of his home and severe smoke damage to the interior.

Osborne wasn't at home at the time but he praised the quick thinking of his neighbour, who smelt the smoke and extinguished the fire with a garden hose.

Sean Osborne has been at the forefront of community action in the St James' area for years and along with other community workers, has campaigned against people involved in anti-social behaviour in the area. The previous evening, he had spoken at a rally in the area organised by the relatives of people killed by car thieves.

"If this attack was intended to scare me off it has had the opposite effect and has made me and the others involved in campaigning against anti-social behaviour even more determined", said Osborne.

He explained that his neighbours in the district had rallied round him and had taken up a collection to help him pay for the damage done to his home.

Osborne thanked his friends and neighbours for their support. "This is the true nature of the people of this area and as well as helping me they are sending out a message to the thugs that their days are numbered."


Children injured in bus attack



Parents from Dromintee, South Armagh have contacted Sinn Féin councillor Elena Martin to complain that their children were attacked coming home from Scotland on Sunday night 28 July.

Two buses carrying the young children, all aged around 13, returning from their day trip, were attacked after they drove off the boat at Belfast. The window of one bus was broken but the drivers managed to maintain control of their vehicles and drove on until they reached the motorway layby.

Between 11pm that night and 3am the following morning, several of the injured children were treated in Daisy Hill hospital, Newry for cuts and glass lodged in their eyes. They were very distressed.

"No doubt this will be ignored as simply another statistic on the list of loyalist sectarian attacks on nationalists," said Martin. "Unionist politicians need to speak out very clearly against this sectarian campaign of hatred. Otherwise the mindset of 'Kill all Taigs' is allowed to fester within their community."
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An Phoblacht
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