22 September 2005 Edition

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Northern Political News in Brief

Unionist calls PSNI "scum"

Ulster Unionist Councillor and former Belfast Mayor Jim Rodgers has labelled the PSNI "scum". Rodgers is one of seven unionists to withdraw from the Belfast District Policing Partnership Board in protest against PSNI handling of recent unionist rioting.

Speaking after a meeting with PSNI Chief Constable, Rodgers said Hugh Orde had said nothing to dissuade him and his unionist colleagues from ending their boycott.

He also said: "There are scum now working for the Tactical and Mobile Support Unit divisions of the PSNI. That's the only way I can describe them."

UUP man appears for loyalist accused

Another former UUP Mayor and City Councillor Robert Stoker is to appear as a witness for the defence in support of a loyalist charged with attempted murder.

Paul Bloomer has admitted being present during rioting in the Village area but claims he was trying to stop the rioting taking place. He is accused of firing a crossbow at a British soldier.

Bradley attacked

The vice chair of the Policing Board in the Six Counties Denis Bradley was admitted to hospital after being attacked in a bar in Derry. Bradley was watching a football match with his son when masked men entered the bar and attacked him with a baseball bat. His condition has been described as stable. Sinn Féin has roundly condemned the attack.

Unionist myth making continues

Historians have dismissed as inaccurate a mural suggesting that several thousand Protestant women and children fled sectarian attack in Belfast in August 1971 to start a new life in Liverpool.

The mural, painted on an East Belfast gable wall claims to tell "the untold story" of frightened and fleeing women and children escaping from "burning homes" as the "IRA launched a bitter sectarian attack on Protestant communities" in Belfast."

The IRA at no stage engaged in a sectarian war against Protestants in Belfast and No record of any such mass exodus exists anywhere.

It is thought the mural may refer to an offer by Orangemen in Liverpool to shelter 60 children at a time of serious unrest on the streets of Belfast in the aftermath of Internment. A Liverpool newspaper puts the figure of around 500 people seeking temporary respite with a two-week vacation in England.

What is a matter of public record are the thousands of nationalists forced to flee across the border to be housed in military camps in the 26 Counties following widespread unionist pogroms beginning in August 1969. By July 1972 around 10,000 Catholics were being housed in the 26 Counties.

Maskey hails success discussion with unionists

Saturday 17 September saw a trio of speakers representing different shades of unionist opinion address an outreach meeting organised by Sinn Féin's Alex Maskey.

Entitled Towards National Reconciliation, the meeting was organised as part of the Sinn Féin's Céad Bliain celebrations and was addressed by former Irish rugby star Trevor Ringland, chair of the One Small Step campaign, Dawn Purvis of the PUP and Lesley Carroll Convener of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland.

The recent rioting and violence that erupted after the ban on the Orange Order from part of the Springfield Road was discussed.

Questions from the floor demonstrated the frustration within the nationalist community over attempts by unionist spokespersons to explain away the violence.

A constant theme of those on the panel was to describe the frustrations and anger within the unionist community as being fuelled by a perception of constant concessions to republicans in the Peace Process, while unionist communities were given nothing.

The issue of the PSNI took up much of the discussion as did the idea that unionist perceptions of themselves and their community and the wider political process.

After the meeting Maskey said: "This discussion provided a good platform for future dialogue and only marks the beginning of this type of debate".

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