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2 August 2001 Edition

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Ervine gets it wrong

Nationalists in the Short Strand area of East Belfast have rejected claims by the PUP's David Ervine that nationalists are heightening tension in the area.

Ervine accused nationalists of attacking loyalists outside the Laganside Inn on the Ravenhill Road on Saturday 28 July, saying ``this was a totally unprovoked attack at the heart of the loyalist community, with a ferocious degree of violence''.

Ervine claimed a mob of nationalists from the Short Strand went into the Laganside Inn in the early hours and carried out what he called an unprovoked attack.

However, residents of the Short Strand told An Phoblacht that a gang of loyalists, who were wrecking nationalist houses and cars on the Albertbridge Road at around 4am, ``were caught red handed'', and that some hand to hand fighting ensued. The nationalists then chased the loyalists up the Ravenhill Road.

Mother of three Margaret Bennett said she heard banging and discovered a man trying to smash her front window with a snooker cue. ``There were about five men running through the gardens smashing cars and breaking windows,'' she said. ``There was a man in the middle of the street telling them to do the houses as they were attacking the cars.'' She accused the PUP leader of inciting further attacks on their homes - ``He has set up everybody in this area as targets by what he said.''

``These people had to travel quite a distance to come into the Short Strand and attack houses. The people here just want to live in peace,'' said Sinn Féin Councillor Joe O'Donnell.


An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1