15 March 2001 Edition

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PUP stir sectarian pot

Lower Ormeau community representative Michael Goodman has dismissed PUP claims that nationalists are involved in attacks on the loyalist Donegall Pass area.

Goodman accused Dawn Purvis of the PUP of engaging in ``hysterical attempts to draw attention away from the real issue - attacks by loyalists on anyone walking along the Ormeau Road at night''.

Goodman was speaking after it emerged that on Tuesday 6 March loyalists carried out ballbearing attacks on the homes of two Lower Ormeau Road pensioners and of LOCC spokesperson Gerard Rice, damaging windows in the homes. On Sunday 4 March a carload of loyalists had attacked two local men outside North Cricket ground. One of the men was hospitalised.

Goodman pointed out that loyalists from Donegall Pass regularly attack people who they believe to be from the Lower Ormeau and that these attacks have been happening persistently over the years. He added that representatives from the Ormeau Road community had been in constant touch with representatives from Donegall Pass in attempts to resolve this type of problem.

Ballynahinch loyalists on rampage

A Catholic-owned bar, a taxi and a nationalist youth were attacked as loyalists in Ballynahinch went on the rampage last weekend.

In the first attack, the Athletic Bar in Market Square had a number of windows broken when a gang of loyalists attacked it. At 11pm the loyalists returned to attack the bar a second time.

Later that night, at Windmill Street, a Catholic taxi driver had the windows and lights of his minibus smashed. Later on, a young nationalist was beaten and hospitalised when he was set upon by loyalists after he left the Enterprise Bar on High Street.

Sinn Féin representative Francie Braniff said that he has briefed Dublin government representatives on these latest attacks. Braniff was part of a delegation that included Sinn Féin Assembly member Mick Murphy and Fermanagh Human Rights activist Fr Joe McVeigh who met with representatives from the Department of Foreign Affairs in January to highlight the high level of sectarianism directed at nationalists in the town.

RUC criticised over death threats

Nationalists and republicans in South Down and from the Short Strand in East Belfast are the latest to be warned their details are in the hands of loyalists.

Since last weekend, the RUC has visited up to ten people, including Sinn Féin party members, and warned over their personal security.

According to Sinn Féin's Mick Murphy, Assembly member for South Down, ``it seems this information was found a month or so ago yet these people are only being told now that they are under threat''.

Meanwhile Sinn Féin's East Belfast representative, Joe O'Donnell, has hit out at the RUC after they ``failed to supply adequate information to four Short Strand residents who have been informed that their details are now in the hands of loyalists''.

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