29 April 2004 Edition

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South Belfast intimidation

Sectarian graffiti in South Belfast

Sectarian graffiti in South Belfast

Unionist paramilitaries have been distributing sectarian leaflets in South Belfast calling for Catholics to be forced out of the area.

The threatening leaflets were delivered to houses in the Sandy Row and Donegall Road areas last weekend, calling for people to attend a public meeting at the Orange Hall in the area on Wednesday night 29 April.

Even though the Orange Order claimed to be unaware of the meeting, the leaflets, which were widely circulated, stated what the meeting was about and clearly advertised the venue as the nearby Orange Hall.

Local Ulster Unionist Councillor Bob Stoker has also been criticised over his claim that the leaflets were the work of one person.

The leaflets claim: "Catholics wouldn't let us live on the Falls- why should we let them live here."

The area has previously been the scene of racist attacks against members of the Chinese and Indian communities, with both the UDA and UVF responsible.

Catholic residents of apartments at Whitehall Square have been attacked over the past two years in an orchestrated campaign of intimidation, with loyalist graffiti appearing on walls and some of the apartments attacked with paint bombs.

Last year, a cleaning company employed to remove the graffiti was itself targeted. Employees removing the grafitti were threatened by four men armed with baseball bats and their vehicle was set on fire.

South Belfast Sinn Féin Assembly member Alex Maskey told An Phoblacht that there has been a long campaign of sectarian violence directed against the Catholic community living in the area and called on unionist leaders to act to have these recent threats lifted.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1