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12 December 2002 Edition

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PSNI were heavyhanded in Derry - McLaughlin

Sinn Féin's Mitchel McLaughlin has accused the PSNI of using heavy handed tactics in its handling of the Apprentice Boys Lundy parade in Derry City on Saturday 7 December.

Trouble erupted after members of the PSNI pushed nationalists into the Richmond Centre shopping complex. An eyewitness told the media how he was beaten with a baton by members of the PSNI and then arrested after he spoke to PSNI members, dressed in riot gear about the treatment meted out to local shoppers by the PSNI.

The trouble erupted after Rangers supporters who had gathered to watch the march taunted nationalists with hand gestures signalling their sides 3-2 win over Celtic.

As Apprentice Boys marched back up towards the Diamond, the first of the bottles and missiles were thrown and members of the PSNI baton charged nationalists into Orchard Street and Carlisle Road.

Billy Moore, a spokesperson for the Derry Apprentice Boys, said he was disappointed with the actions of some youths from the nationalist community but acknowledged band members taking part in the event had consumed alcohol before passing flashpoints.

"Band members had been involved in taunting with nationalists but that is a regular occurrence. We will have to stop alcohol being consumed by bandsmen on visiting coaches," he said.

Shopkeepers closed their premises around 4pm, resulting in a loss of tens of thousands of pounds to the local economy.

The trouble continued into the night, with a number of vehicles set alight and 13 nationalists arrested.

Sinn Féin Assembly member for Derry, Mitchel McLaughlin, said Saturday's policing operation was over the top and seriously heavy handed. He added that Saturday's trouble was regrettable but added that the disturbances were nowhere near as serious and as widespread as previous years.

"The trouble came from a small number of youths who obviously had alcohol taken and were wearing Celtic shirts and these were joined by a group of youngsters who were out to cause trouble" said McLaughlin.

He added that it was unfortunate that the march, the football match and history all collided on Saturday. "I think both sides have to seriously question themselves after Saturday's disturbances, and we will have to arrive at a situation where the two communities can feel free to go about their business but this will require hard work."

A video of the PSNI's handling of Saturday's disturbances will be sent to the Police Ombudsman and Sinn Féin has urged all those who were attacked by members of the PSNI to lodge formal complaints with the Omdudsman's office.

Meanwhile, a man and woman were injured in two separate sectarian attacks in the Waterside area of Derry on the morning of Friday 6 December.

The man sustained a broken finger when he was assaulted by a man at around 7am in the Irish Street/Knockwellan Park area. The woman suffered severe bruising to her head when she was attacked by the same man at 7.35am in the same vicinity. The attacker was described as being in his early 20s, of stocky build and approximately 5 feet 9 inches tall.


Glentoran FC linked to loyalist shop




The Union Jack Shop in East Belfast, which specialises in selling loyalist paramilitary memorabilia, is also a ticket outlet for Glentoran Football Club and is the official stockist for Glasgow Rangers jewellery. Situated on the Newtownards Road in East Belfast, it sells an array of loyalist paramilitary merchandise featuring the UDA, UVF, UFF and YCV.

Glasgow Rangers Football Club issued a statement on Thursday 5 December disassociating itself from the business.

The Newtownards Road shop is an outlet for Glentoran match tickets, with the club's official website advising fans that tickets can be purchased there.

Glentoran chief executive Stafford Reynolds said this was an informal arrangement and the football club did not endorse any other products sold at the shop. "This is designed to facilitate fans who can't get to our Oval ground," he said.

Reynolds stressed that Glentoran supports efforts to eradicate sectarianism in football and is consulting fans on updating the club's equity statement.

In October, Reynolds denied hearing any sectarian abuse directed at Omagh Town's manager Roy McCreadie from sections of Glentoran fans when the two teams met at St Julian's Road.

McCreadie at the time said the "abuse from Glentoran fans was so bad that some of Omagh supporters were too scared to cheer on their team". He complained to the IFA (Irish Football Association) about the incident but without satisfaction.

In August, Neil Lennon was forced to withdraw from the Six-County soccer team after receiving a death threat from the LVF and earlier in the year a Northern Ireland supporters club in East Belfast flew UVF and other loyalist flags from flagpoles at the front of their premises.


UDA arson attack




The kitchen of a coffee shop on the Stewartstown Road in West Belfast was gutted and the rest of the building sustained serious smoke damage after it was targeted by the UDA on Tuesday night 3 December.

CCTV footage captured five men pouring petrol over the building and setting it alight before making their escape into the nearby loyalist Blacks Road.

Owner Stephen Young said he was devastated and now five local people are out of a job coming up to Christmas. "We only opened here four weeks ago after nearly 18 years on the Andersonstown Road and we will not let these people win," he said. He promised to get the business up and running again as soon as possible.

Sinn Féin has accused the UDA of trying to create another interface and of sending out a signal that nationalists were not wanted on that part of the Stewartstown Road.
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