AP front 1 - 2022

6 June 2002 Edition

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Pensioner escapes loyalist shooting

A Catholic pensioner sitting in the front room of his Enid Street home was lucky not to be killed when a shot was fired through his window on Monday night, 3 June at around 9.30pm.

The bullet narrowly missed the man, who wishes to remain anonymous. He told the press, "I have lived in this house for 15 years but I will have to move now".

There have been three Catholics killed in this area over the years. In July 1992 51-year-old Cyril Murray was killed by the UDA in his Kerrsland Drive home, Rory McClay, a 37-year-old father of four, was killed at his Ballyhackamore home in December 1993, while in May 1993, 65-year-old Edward Hughes was shot dead as he watched television.

Two Catholic chapels in the same area were attacked this week, one for the second time. On Monday night, 3 June, St Anthony's church on the Woodstock Road was attacked for the second night in a row. A stained glass window was smashed. On Sunday night a wire grille and perspex window were removed before a petrol bomb was lobbed into the church. Only minor damage was caused.

The parochial house at St Columbcille's church on the Newtownards Road suffered scorch damage when two petrol bombs were thrown onto the roof, also on Monday night.

St Columbcille's was one of the nine Catholic churches burnt by loyalists in the run up to Drumcree in July 1998.

British Army threaten residents

Residents of the Longlands estate on the outskirts of North Belfast were threatened by British soldiers last Sunday, 2 June. They also reported that the RUC/PSNI stood by while soldiers tried to force the residents off the streets.

The situation arose after loyalists from the White City area tried to attack the nationalist estate at around 5 o'clock on Sunday. Two RUC/PSNI and eleven British Army Land Rovers were positioned at the opening to the Longlands estate yet did nothing to prevent the loyalists coming across to attack Longlands.

When nationalist residents came out to protect their property they were manghandled and threatened with batons by the British soldiers, who began shoving the residents back into their houses.

Residents have told An Phoblacht that there were around 70 British soldiers in the estate who behaved in a very intimidating manner to them and verbally threatening. Loyalist were allowed to stand and shout abuse at nationalists while the RUC/PSNI stood by.

Later the same loyalist mob made its way to the Whitewell area on the pretence that the memorial to 16-year-old loyalist Thomas McDonald, who was killed September, had been vandalised. When they arrived on the Whitewell Road they attacked Catholic houses. When nationalist residents came out to defend their homes, hand to hand fighting broke out. Some residents sustained injuries and one man had his arm broken in three places by the loyalists.

When the RUC/PSNI arrived at the scene, 30 minutes later, they were dressed in riot gear and faced the nationalist residents.

Local people have told An Phoblacht that the memorial to Thomas McDonald wasn't vandalised.

An Phoblacht was also told that two busloads of loyalists had been brought into the White City area prior to the trouble and that they planned the attack in line with their strategy to keep the area under siege.

Assembly member to take action against RUC/PSNI

Sinn Féin Assembly member for West Belfast, Sue Ramsey, is to take malicious prosecution proceedings against the RUC/PSNI after she was cleared of criminal damages and assault charges at Belfast's Magistrates court on Wednesday 29 May.

The charges arose out of a peaceful Sinn Féin protest outside Springfield Road RUC/PSNI barracks on 1 April 2000. The protest had ended and Ramsey was walking down Crocus Street when a young boy told her that trouble had started outside the barracks.

"Despite the fact that the protest had broken up and people were going home, the RUC moved into the area in a heavy handed manner and a scuffle broke out. I told an RUC man that there was no need for all this as it was a peaceful protest," said Ramsey.

At this point, the RUC members grabbed Ramsey and the Sinn Féin representative was thrown into the back of a Land Rover. A second woman, Linda Rolfe, was also arrested and the pair were taken to Grosvenor Road RUC barracks and charged with criminal damage and obstruction.

Last week's court case was dismissed by the judge after he heard the RUC evidence.

"It became clear that the RUC knew all along that I was a Sinn Féin politician," said Ramsey. "But in their notes they denied they knew I was a member of Sinn Féin. I will be consulting my solicitors."

Bandsmen attack couple in broad daylight

Loyalist bandsmen attacked an 18-year-old West Belfast girl in an incident during a loyalist jubilee parade in Belfast city centre on Saturday 1 June, when Roisin Gibson and her boyfriend tried Gerard Curley tried to cross Royal Avenue as a loyalist bands parade was passing.

According to Gibson the pair waited until there was a gap between bands before crossing the road but as they got to the other side the parade stopped and the loyalists started chasing them.

"One of them attacked my boyfriend with a band baton, but a street trader helped us and told Gerard to come with him to a local pub. I was running behind them when I was attacked."

She later had to go to the hospital for a facial scan and was also treated for shock. Her face was quite badly bruised and she sustained a cut lip.

Derry RUC/PSNI accused of "sectarian bigotry"

Sinn Féin's deputy Lord Mayor of Derry, Peter Anderson, has branded the RUC/PSNI of being blatantly sectarian after it was revealed that they sent written warnings to Derry publicans threatening them with prosecution if they serve alcohol during Irish world cup games.

Public houses in the mainly unionist towns of Limavady, Portrush and Portstewart however did not receive the same warnings.

RUC/PSNI video kids

Members of the RUC/PSNI have been filming youngsters on the Ballymagroarty estate in Derry. Two Land Rovers entered the nationalist estate on Wednesday 29 May and the occupants began filming the youths using handheld camcorders.

One parent who approached the RUC/PSNI members was told the operation was aimed at prosecuting those responsible for stoning essential services.

Parents whose children have been filmed have been urged to consult their solicitors.

Sinn Féin councillor Billy Page told An Phoblacht: "I can tell you that since the Community Restorative Justice started operating here four months ago there has been no attacks on essential services; families of the Ballmagroarty are very worried about where the footage of their children could end up."

Orange Arches challenged

The RUC/PSNI have been accused in Belfast High Court of knowing that an Orange Arch erected in Glengormley on 19 June last year was put up illegally, yet mounting a security operation to facilitate it being erected.

The revelation came in the course of a judicial review being taken by a Glengormley resident, who also says the RUC "aided and abetted" those erecting the Arch. If he is successful, the erection of the loyalist arches during this year's marching season will be threatened, as those putting them up will have to get planning permission and insurance.

It also became clear during the hearing that of the 100-plus arches erected last summer during the loyalist marching season, only four had the necessary planning consent. Judge Coughlin reserved judgement.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1