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12 December 2002 Edition

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Unionist politicians blamed for Antrim harassment

A Sinn Féin councillor is linking the latest upsurge in loyalist attacks and PSNI harassment of Catholics youths in Antrim Town to a recent statement from two unionist politicians who called for "increased policing" in the Brantwood and The Folly areas of the town.

According to Martin McManus, the DUP's John Smyth and UUP man Adrian Watson called for "increased policing" in Brantwood and The Folly areas which they described as "hot spots" and since then Catholic youths have been targeted by UVF gangs armed with baseball bats by the PSNI.

Speaking to An Phoblacht, McManus pointed out that parents who have spoken to him have stressed that the increased PSNI presence, which has been suggested by the unionist councillors is not a solution to the social issues within their community.

"The residents believe it is wrong to scapegoat the teenagers and to criminalise them without dealing with the lack of youth provision in the area. Many parents with teenage children are calling on the unionist representatives, Adrian Watson and John Smyth, to retract their statements in light of the recent heavy handed policing and the upsurge of loyalist activity in the area".

Meanwhile, Councillor McManus has hit out at the LVF, who have issued a death threat against a 15-year-old Protestant boy.

Paul Houston has received death threats from teenage supports of the LVF. The teenager, who lives in the nationalist Rathenraw estate, was targeted after local loyalist youths objected to his friendship with local Catholic youths who attend St Malachy's College in Antrim Town.

"I am calling on other local politicians in the area to speak out against this threat," McManus told An Phoblacht.
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An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1
Ireland
 

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