3 December 2009 Edition

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Poppy loyalists lay siege to pub

‘The Priests’ singer’s home also attacked

THE PSNI facilitated a large crowd of loyalists who besieged a pub in Portadown in the early hours of last Sunday morning. The Protestant-owned bar became the focus of the mob’s anger following an incident during which a number of loyalists were refused entry. 
Loyalists later claimed they had been refused because they were wearing British Remembrance Day poppies. But bar staff say the men were barred from entering the premises because they were already drunk. 
Loyalists had used text messaging calling for a show of force by loyalists outside the pub at closing time. Around 300 loyalists responded to the text call to “show republicans that we will not tolerate their behaviour or presence in our area”.
A decision to allow the mob to stage “a protest” ended in chaos when loyalists refused to disperse and began smashing vehicles they believed belonged to the bar’s clientele. In the ensuing riot, the mob pelting police officers with paving stones, bottles and fireworks. 
People in the bar at the time were unable to leave for several hours fearing attack if they attempted to make their way home. Local nationalists have described the incident as part of a concerted effort to drive Catholics out of Portadown town centre. The riot took place close to the location where Portadown Catholic Robert Hamill was beaten to death by a loyalist mob in 1997.

Meanwhile, the widow of Kevin McDaid and her children have been forced to leave their home in Coleraine because of ongoing sectarian abuse.
Kevin McDaid, a cross-community worker was murdered by a loyalist mob last May. The news emerged during a court hearing when a barrister revealed how the murder victim’s widow had been forced to move away from the Coleraine area.

The home of one of Derry’s famous ‘singing priests’ has been damaged in a sectarian attack. Fr Eugene O’Hagan is one of three priests who make up the vocal group, ‘The Priests’ who shot to fame after their debut album sold two million copies. 
Two masked men carrying a bag of stones forced open an electric gate at the Sacred Heart Catholic Church on the Doagh Road, Ballyclare around 5.30am on Saturday. Fr O Hagan was asleep when windows of the Parochial House were smashed.

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