27 May 2004 Edition

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Donaldson urged to speak out

Sectarian harassment and attacks on nationalist residents in Lagan Valley are on the increase, Sinn Féin Councillor Paul Butler has told An Phoblacht.

Butler was speaking after an attack on a Catholic couple in Stoneyford in the early hours of Wednesday 26 May.

Windows were smashed and the back window of their new car was shattered. The couples only moved into their new home three months ago,

According to the man, who wished to remain anonymous, this is the eighth time since they moved from West Belfast into their new home that they have been targeted.

The householder said the windows of his home have already had to be replaced on numerous occasions as a result of ongoing sectarian attacks in the village.

He now says he is moving out.

"We have just had enough of this naked sectarianism," he said. "We are being attacked simply because we are Catholics. We moved into this area because it's a beautiful part of the country and all we wanted was a quiet life, but it seems these sectarian thugs don't want Catholics about Stoneyford."

Another couple who recently moved to the area said there is a campaign of intimidation being waged by loyalists.

"Carloads of loyalists are driving around some of the new housing developments in the evenings in an attempt to frighten Catholic residents," said one local. "Sectarian slogans like 'Kill All Taigs' (KAT) have been painted onto walls and road signs and kerbstones have been painted red, white and blue."

Paul Butler has urged on the Catholic community in Stoneyford not to bow to the loyalist thugs who are trying to intimidate them out of the village.

"Catholics in Stoneyford want to live in peace with their Protestant neighbours but these thugs are intent on raising sectarian tensions in the area in the run up to the loyalist marching season," he said. "It is about time the MP for the area, Jeffrey Donaldson, came out in support of the Catholic community in Stoneyford."

Butler also called for the removal of UVF and Red Hand Commando flags, which have been erected at the Cutts in Derriaghy. "This is a sinister development which comes at a time when the UVF and LVF are in a middle of a feud and the erection of these flags will heighten tension in the area," he said.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1