29 August 2002 Edition
False claims as Short Strand attacked again
Short Strand Sinn Féin councillor Joe O'Donnell has dismissed claims by loyalist and unionist representatives that nationalists launched an acid bomb attack on the loyalist Cluan Place area on Tuesday night 27 August.
According to loyalists, backed up by the RUC/PSNI, two women were injured when an acid bomb was lobbed from Clandeboye Drive into Cluan Place.
However, Joe O'Donnell insisted that no acid bombs were thrown from Clandeboye. "If there were people injured in an acid bomb attack in Cluan Place, it did not come Clandeboye," he insisted. "No provocation came from here. No stones came from here."
O'Donnell went on to point out that in the past week, over 20 litres of acid were stolen in a loyalist area of East Belfast, "and this acid is not in the hands of nationalists".
During the trouble that erupted on Tuesday night, loyalists threw a pipe bomb into Clandeboye Drive. The bomb exploded in the garden of a house at about 11pm, and no one was injured.
At about this time, according to local people, up to 150 loyalists gathered at Cluan Place and bombarded houses in Clandeboye, at times using fireworks. This bombardment went on until 2.30am.
While this was continuing, a large force of RUC/PSNI moved into Clandeboye, on the nationalist side of the 'peace wall', and confronted nationalist residents.
Said Joe O'Donnell: "This RUC/PSNI attitude is totally in keeping with the role they are playing in the Siege of the Short Strand."
The Sinn Féin man explained that early on Tuesday morning, up to six RUC/PSNI Land Rovers came into Clandeboye Gardens and carried out a raid on the home of a local man, who was arrested and subsequently charged with riotous behaviour.
The raid was the second series of raids carried out in the district over the past week.
Ironically the RUC/PSNI also raided the area on Friday 23 August, after what Joe O'Donnell described as the first relatively quiet night the district experienced in almost three months.
But since last Wednesday, 21 August, loyalists have continued their onslaught of the area. On Wednesday, a house in Clandeboye was targeted in a pipe and petrol bomb attack. A Second World War hand grenade, thrown from Cluan Place, was defused by the British Army. Later on Wednesday, a number of blast bombs were thrown at homes in Bryson Street.
Loyalists also went on a rampage of rioting in their own districts and engaged the British Army and RUC/PSNI. Blast, pipe and petrol bombs as well as shots directed at the Crown forces.
A number of children were lucky to escape injury when loyalists threw large fireworks from Cluan Place into Clandeboye on Sunday 25 August.
The children were playing on the street, taking advantage of the good weather, when the fireworks exploded. An 18-month infant was among the group of children targeted.
Sinn Féin's Joe O'Donnell has called for a multi-agency approach to deal with the emergency situation facing Short Strand residents. He was speaking after a Sinn Féin delegation met senior Housing Executive officials to discuss the situation. The meeting comes in light of the news that loyalists are deliberately targeting builders involved in repair work on houses in the Clandeboye area damaged in the loyalist pogrom.
One building contractor, who has been trying to carry out repair work since July, has disclosed that he has been targeted by various missiles, including blast bombs, as he attempts to carry out repairs.
Catholics escape UDA attack
A Catholic family had a lucky escape after UDA gunmen fired two shots through the front door of their house in Glebe Avenue in the predominantly loyalist Harper's Hill estate in Coleraine, County Derry. No one was injured in the sectarian attack, which occurred at around 11pm on Wednesday 21 August.
Sources have told An Phoblacht that there is a direct link between the loyalist attack and the unveiling of a new mural in the Harpers estate commemorating 19-year-old William Campbell, a UDA member who died while handling a pipe bomb behind his home in Winston Way last January.
One resident said Catholics have been leaving the Harpers Hill estate in droves and others were too scared to stay as a result of loyalist attacks. "Three masked UDA men were present during the unveiling of the mural on Sunday 18 August; these murals only cause distress and unease to Catholics that remain here," An Phoblacht was told.
In the past number of years, the Coleraine area, which is at the heart of the UDA's Derry and North Antrim Brigade, has seen an escalation of attacks on Catholics and their homes.
Gildernew slams RUC/PSNI assault
Sinn Féin MP for Fermanagh and South Tyrone, Michelle Gildernew, has criticised the RUC\PSNI after they carried out "a brutal assault" on a Caledon man in his Castle Drive home in the early hours of Monday 26 August.
According to Gildernew, the incident arose after the man's son was stopped by the RUC/PSNI who falsely accused him of drinking and driving. The young man, who is in his twenties, was taken to Armagh RUC\PSNI barracks, where he was breathalysed.
The man was released with a caution and told to produce his car documents. However, when he returned home, a number of RUC/PSNI members forced their way into the house and ran upstairs after him.
The man's father, who is in his forties, was woken by the commotion. When he came out to see what was happening, he was met on the stairway by members of the RUC/PSNI, with batons drawn.
Refusing his request to produce a warrant for entering his home, they beat him. To add insult to injury, the man was later charged with assaulting members of the RUC/PSNI. Michelle Gildernew says the man went to his solicitor, who is now dealing with the case.
Gildernew challenged the RUC/PSNI's version of events. "The RUC\PSNI entered the house at 1.05am but the warrant was not applied for until 2.15 am," she said. "This is totally illegal and then to charge an innocent man with assault is absurd."
She called on the SDLP to withdraw from the Policing Board at once. "The SDLP are giving the veneer of respectability to the RUC/PSNI but we all know nothing has changed for nationalists," she said.
RUC/PSNI man lost control
Derry Sinn Féin councillor Billy Page has condemned the actions of the RUC/PSNI in the wake of a hoax bomb alert near the Fountain estate on Saturday 17 August.
A device was thrown from the loyalist Fountain estate into the Catholic Abercorn Road and landed in an area where young children were playing.
"Myself and another Sinn Féin member were in Abercorn Road trying to reach local residents when an RUC/PSNI officer stopped us and seemed to lose control of himself. He insulted, abused and manhandled my party colleague, who is a local resident," said Page.
Councillor Page told An Phoblacht he had come to the area to talk to young people who had gathered and to defuse any tensions which may have arisen when the RUC/PSNI officer ran amok. "These actions could have started a Saturday afternoon riot and I commend the young people for showing restraint in the face of provocation," he said.
Holy Cross could close
The chairman of the board of governors of Holy Cross girls' primary school, Father Aidan Troy, has said that recommendations by independent arbitrators could lead to the closure of the school.
In their report, Americans Sue and Steve Williams, who were appointed by David Trimble and Mark Durkan, recommended a wall be built along the Alliance Avenue side of the Ardoyne Road in North Belfast and a fence erected on the loyalist Hesketh Road, which backs onto the Ardoyne Road.
Father Troy praised the efforts of the arbitrators but insisted that the brief they were given was flawed: "It is unfair to ask a school to accept a structure that is going to lead to its closure and that is what this wall will do; they were asked to do something that was never going to bring a solution."
Father Troy added that enrolment to the school was down but that numbers seem to be also down at other schools because of demographics.
Sinn Féin councillor for Ardoyne, Margaret McClenaghan, told An Phoblacht that she is still studying the report and will express a view after consultation with parents and the wider community.
"The safety of children and parents is utmost in our concerns and school children should be able to go to school unimpeded; that is the most important thing for Holy Cross Girls," she said. She said she had no indication of loyalist plans to restart their protest next week and would be shocked if they did.
Sinn Féin had warned of increased use of plastic bullets.
A report due to be published on the use of plastic bullets has indicated that in the past year the firing of plastic bullets has trebled. Sinn Féin says it is further evidence that the current policing structures are operating without regard for basic human rights.
Sinn Féin Assembly member Francie Molloy told An Phoblacht that at a time when other parties on the new policing board insisted that a ban on plastic bullets was impending, Sinn Féin foretold that a decision, last year, to purchase 50,000 new plastic bullets would lead to an increase in their use and these parties must explain their position.
"In the past year the use of these deadly killers by the RUC/PSNI has dramatically increased and so has the firing of plastic bullets by the British Army," he said. "People living in interface areas have reported that the RUC/PSNI have openly encouraged the British Army to fire plastic bullets, thereby trying to outwit the powers of the Ombudsman in any investigation."
Molloy went on to say that an acceptable and accountable police force interested in human rights would not carry or use plastic bullets. Unlike the SDLP, Sinn Féin will not justify or excuse the use of plastic bullets.
A military report will be completed in two months and is expected to dismiss claims that the British Army is firing plastic bullets for the RUC/PSNI.
Loyalists target college
A Catholic college has been extensively damaged in a sectarian arson attack in North Belfast. The fire at the Dominican College was discovered by a caretaker on Tuesday 27 August at around 12.30am.
A sixth floor kitchen and the gardener's store were destroyed in the blaze and several other classrooms were damaged.
Sinn Féin councillor for the area, Gerard Brophy, has said that this latest sectarian attack on a Catholic school is just the latest in a loyalist vendetta against the nationalist community. "While responses from unionists to these sectarian campaigns remain muted attacks similar to this will continue indefinitely," he said.