31 March 2005 Edition
Spate of sectarian attacks in Antrim
Sinn Féin's Philip McGuigan is accusing the PSNI of not doing enough to protect nationalists after loyalists in County Antrim launched a vicious round of sectarian attacks in Ballymena and Ahoghill, including ordering a Catholic grandmother out of her Ahoghill home.
In recent months, according to McGuigan, a total of eight girls have been attacked in the centre of Ballymena town by a gang of loyalists. In one incident, a young girl had her jaw broken by the gang's ringleader, a well known loyalist. In another a young Protestant woman, whose boyfriend is a Catholic, had her nose broken by the same gang.
In one of the latest attacks, a group of masked loyalists armed with baseball bats caused more than £3,000 of damage to a car owned by 24-year-old nationalist Darren McGinty on Monday night 22 March. The car was parked outside the leisure centre in Ballymena where McGinty works.
McGinty believes that he and other young nationalists in Ballymena have been singled out for loyalist attacks because of PSNI harassment.
He was hospitalised two years ago when loyalists smashed a plant pot over his head and he was informed by the PSNI that he was under loyalist death threat last August.
McGinty has made a number of complaints to the Police Ombudsman due to the number of times he has been stopped and searched by the PSNI in recent months.
Sinn Féin North Antrim Assembly member Philip McGuigan accused the PSNI of political policing. McGuigan said he has been in contact with the Police Ombudsman's Office and the British-Irish Intergovernmental Secretariat to lodge a number of complaints of harassment against young nationalists.
In the early hours of Easter Sunday, loyalists ordered a Catholic grandmother to leave her Brookfield Gardens home in Ahoghill within 48 hours, following a sectarian attack sparked by her grandchildren playing hurling.
Kathleen McCaughey and her daughter were awakened by banging on their front door and were confronted by a masked man standing on the stairs at around 2.30am.
"He shouted at us 'Get out you fenian bastards, get out or I'll be back',"explained McCaughey's daughter Michillo.
The masked man fled the house but an accomplice started to bang on the windows. He shouted that they had to get out and called them fenian bastards.
Kathleen McCaughey said she will not be driven out of her home. "I was one of the first into Brookfield and have lived here all my life and have never moved. I won't be shifting for them."
A 24-year-old Catholic man was badly beaten and robbed at gunpoint by a loyalist gang after he found them in his Clifton Park Avenue flat in North Belfast.
Martin McAllister had returned home on Easter Monday after a day out with friends when he walked in on the gang, who had completely trashed the a and daubed 'Taigs Out' on the wall.
Also in Belfast, a 14-year-old Catholic schoolboy escaped serious injury after he was assaulted by a gang of loyalists as he walked along East Bridge Street close to the Markets area of Belfast on Tuesday 29 March.
Vicious racist attack
Loyalists are believed to be behind a racist attack on an Asian man outside his Donegall Avenue home in South Belfast on Monday night, 28 March.
Three men punched and kicked him before dragging him outside on to the pavement, where they continued to beat him before striking him with a bottle.
The man was treated in hospital for cuts to his face and eye, bruising to the rest of his body and a mouth injury. He is understood to have lost a number of teeth.
Sinn Féin South Belfast MLA Alex Maskey said it was "deeply worrying after a period when the frequency of these sorts of violent racist attacks had dropped that this latest incident has taken place".