29 June 2000 Edition

Resize: A A A Print

Finaghy sectarianism on the increase

``The UDA flags on the lamp posts at the Finaghy Crossroads in South Belfast are a constant reminder to local Catholics that the loyalist threat to their lives and well being are still very real,'' says Stephen Long.

Long, the Sinn Féin representative for the area, told An Phoblacht that since the start of this year loyalists in the South Belfast area, particularly around Finaghy Cross, have increased.

Only as recently as last week, a 14-year-old, wearing an Antrim GAA football top, was set upon by a loyalist.

``This was a grown man and he attacked this lad for no reason other than he was a Catholic'', said Long.

Long explained that since the beginning of the year and the upsurge in attacks, including petrol bomb attacks in Finaghy Road South, the RUC have claimed to be doing everything they can, but have only arrested one man in that time.

Long has also been in contact with NIO security minister Adam Ingram, who is a former Junior Orangeman, asking for a meeting.

Ingram refused.

``It is clear the RUC or NIO do not want to confront the loyalists. Last Thursday, 22 June, two days after the UDA issued its death threat against nationalists, six loyalists using a flatbed truck drove around the whole area putting UDA flags on the lamps. Despite the RUC claims of increased patrolling, these men were not stopped or even challenged by the RUC and they were in the area for two or three hours,'' says Long.

He is now calling on UDP deputy mayor of Belfast Frank McCoubrey and party colleague Harry Smith from South Belfast to use their influence with the UDA to call a halt to this sectarian campaign. Long has also been in touch with Irish government officials, ``to put them in the picture'.

Meanwhile, the RUC have admitted that they are investigating attacks on children as young as 12 in the Finaghy and Dunmurray areas.

Pupils from the Catholic Rathmore Grammar School have been particularly targeted because of their uniforms.

According to information we have received, loyalist gangs are roaming the area and are using mobile phones to call up support as they attack the vulnerable pupils.

Some children have been admitted to hospital with serious injuries.

These have been going on for up to nine months but have increased lately. On one occasion, the school authorities refused to allow pupils out of the school and summoned their parents to collect them.


Meehan urges nationalist vigilance

Sinn Féin representative in South Antrim, Martin Meehan, is warning nationalists in the area to be vigilant after loyalist gangs began a campaign of graffiti writing in Catholic areas.

The loyalists were roaming around Antrim town putting up flags and painting slogans, ``which is a worry to nationalists in Antrim town, who have been on the end of a campaign of intimidation from these gangs'', said Meehan.

Meehan went on to say that some ``frightened residents called the RUC at about 7.30pm yet it wasn't until about two hours later that the RUC appeared''.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1

Powered by Phoenix Media Group