21 September 2006 Edition
DUP in sectarian cover-up
As Catholics living in the greater Ballymena area continue to be targeted by loyalist gangs, controversy has arisen over remarks made by the DUP's Ian Paisley junior.
Responding to the recent upsurge in anti-Catholic violence during August and September, which saw at least 12 attacks on Catholic homes and property, Paisley junior remarked that the attacks were "self-inflicted".
Paisley junior also claimed the attacks were intended to "damage the credibility of the unionist community" and were the result of "internal wranglings and fall-outs".
In the week Paisley junior made his comments, four Catholic-owned homes were targeted by loyalists, with the most serious being two petrol bomb attacks on houses in the Dunvale and Rathmore areas of Ballymena.
Last week also witnessed the latest attack on the Church of Our Lady in Harryville in Ballymena, with a number of paint bombs being hurled at the chapel.
Then on Friday, 15 September, it emerged that Catholic schoolchildren returning home to the nearby village of Ahoghill had to be given a PSNI escort as they were under threat from loyalists who gathered near the bus stop they used.
Speaking to An Phoblacht, Sinn Féin's Philip McGuigan said that Paisley junior's comments were "typical of the kind of nonsense that people have had to listen to from Ian Paisley junior over recent years.
"Ian Paisley junior should stand shoulder to shoulder with others in trying to bring an end to sectarianism but it's obvious from his comments and those of other DUP councillors that they aren't too concerned about sectarian attacks against their Catholic neighbours."