15 June 2006 Edition

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In Brief

Progress on Orange 'Tour of the North'

Sinn Féin Councillor for the Ardoyne area Margaret McClenaghan has praised the work undertaken by the Ardoyne Dialogue Group in the run up to this Friday's Tour of the North Orange parade.

"The nationalist community in Ardoyne will as ever be hopeful that this Friday's Tour of the North Parade passes off peacefully and without incident. In the past this parade has resulted in widespread disruption and attacks on nationalist homes. Indeed after one such parade staff in the Mater hospital ended up coming under attack from a unionist mob attending the parade."

"The Ardoyne Dialogue Group in partnership with the local community have engaged in a process with the North and West Parades Forum which it is hoped will enable local people to get on with their lives with minimal disruption or sectarian harassment. I commend the work they done and I would appeal to people, particularly from outside the area not to do anything on Friday night which will undermine this work."

Party colleague Cllr. Carál Ní Chuilín however did express concerns that the parade organisers were still insisting on marching up through the Duncairn Gardens.

Arming of prison warders fuels collusion fears

Just weeks after British government secret Cabinet documents revealed that the UDR was acting as the main recruiting and rearming mechanism for unionist paramilitaries going back as far as the 1970's, a decision to pour even more weaponry into the unionist community has been taken by the PSNI.

Not only has much of the illegal weaponry of unionist paramilitaries been covertly supplied by the British state, either through mechanisms like the UDR and British army agents like Brian Nelson, but members of the unionist community have also amassed an armoury of over 100,000 legally held weapons.

Last week the PSNI revealed they were intent on adding to this weapons stockpile by arming prison wardens with personal issue weapons. British Minister Paul Goggins admitted that 867 people in the North are currently in possession of PSNI 'loaned' personal protection weapons. The minister said 688 guns were in the hands of prison wardens and a further 217 went to British army personnel.

Sinn Féin MLA Fra McCann accused the PSNI of arming those with an anti-republican and anti-nationalist agenda. "Serious questions need to be asked about why these weapons have been loaned out to forces many of whom have a history of abusing human rights," said McCann.

DUP foster sectarianism

Ballymena Sinn Féin councillor Monica Digney is accusing the DUP of fostering sectarianism in Ballymena.

Digney was talking to An Phoblacht after the DUP refused to debate her motion calling on Ballymena council to back an anti-sectarian campaign in the town in response to the killing of teenager Michael McIlveen and ongoing sectarin violence orchestrated by unionist paramilitaries.

During the June 5 council meeting Digney DUP councillors "played the drums" on the table and heckled her.

In the course of the council meeting DUP councillor Davy Tweed, "questioned", the upbringing of Michael McIlveen and claimed that, "people associated with the family" had intimidated Protestants in Ballymena.

After the meeting a number of nationalists who attended were confronted by a loyalists.

Meanwhile a nationalist teenager from Ballymena chased by loyalists wielding machetes says he is too afraid to return home.

SF Mayor in Carrickmacross

Sinn Féin Councillor Matt Carthy was this week elected as the first ever Sinn Féin Mayor of Carrickmacross Town Council. He said it was a historic occasion and dedicated his election to "Sinn Féin's many supporters and members throughout this area. He paid tribute to Hunger Striker Kieran Doherty, who was elected by the people of Cavan/Monaghan 25 years ago this week.

Refuse airspace to CIA planes

Sinn Féin International Affairs and Human Rights spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has called for all planes associated with the CIA or US military to be refused the use of Irish airports and airspace.

He said that with increasing reports and incidents, including Tuesday's revelation that the US military illegally transported a prisoner through Shannon Airport on Sunday last, the Government should, as Sinn Féin previously called for, refuse the use of Irish airports and airspace "to all planes associated with the CIA or US military".

Upsurge in sectarian attacks

Fears that loyalists are intent on stirring up sectarian trouble over the summer months were confirmed with attacks on the Ardoyne home of a 91-year-old woman last weekend. In other attacks across North Belfast cars were targetted by loyalist stone throwers in Ligoniel, a woman was beaten up by loyalists at Cliftonville Circus.

Speculation also surrounds the assault on the son of Police Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan. Damien O'Loan was is in hospital with serious head injuries after being beaten by a gang close to the loyalist Hillview Court area of North Belfast.

And a woman in her forties was attacked by a gang of loyalist men after she came upon them abusing Catholic schoolchildren at Cliftonville Circus.

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