29 April 1999 Edition

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McElduff challenges UUP's Hussey

by Pádraig MacDabhaid

Sinn Fein's West Tyrone Assembly member, Barry McElduff, has challenged the UUP's joint whip, Derek Hussey, to explain the contradiction between his support for the Good Friday Agreement and the actions of the band he cofounded, the Castlederg Young Loyalists.

The challenge comes after the RUC sealed off Castlederg town centre in order to accommodate 25 loyalist bands, some of them coming from Scotland to march with the Castlederg Young Loyalists on Saturday, 24 April.

Mr McElduff was contacted by a large number of people in the `Head of the Town' area who complained about the behaviour of the loyalists. Residents in Ashburn Park, a small private housing development, and Ferguson Crescent complained of band members and supporters urinating in their gardens, verbally and physically abusing and exposing themselves to residents, throwing beer cans into gardens, and continuing to play their music until 1 am.

Every year this march creates tension in the area, with local families being made prisoners in their own homes. One local man who did not wish to be named explained: ``If you put your nose outside the door you received a mouthful of abuse''.

A young girl received head injuries after being hit by a stone as loyalists attacked nationalist residents.

``These people seem to bring trouble everywhere they go'' said McElduff.

The role of the RUC in this sectarian display has also been brought into question. A local man complained to McElduff that when he phoned Castlederg RUC barracks to complain that he and his wife were unable to leave their homes, an RUC Inspector Collins put the phone down

McElduff asks: ``Does Derek Hussey, also an Assembly member for West Tyrone, really support the Good Friday Agreement which offers people `freedom from sectarian harassment', or is he just a supporter on paper like the rest of his party?''

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