3 April 2003 Edition

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Sunday World editor threatened by UDA

The UDA has threatened Jim McDowell, the northern editor of the Sunday tabloid the Sunday World, and his family.

The UDA in the past two weeks has called for a boycott of the Sunday World newspaper, claiming its editorials are pursuing an anti-loyalist campaign.

The threats came after the loyalist commission, a body made up of members of the UDA, UVF, Red Hand Defenders, unionist politicians and Protestant clergymen, endorsed the boycott.

McDowell said the PSNI warned him in the past week that he and his family were under threat from one of the so called UDA brigadiers and a number of newsagents were warned by the UDA not to sell the paper.

On Thursday night, 24 March, McDowell confronted members of the loyalist commission as they left PSNI headquarters in Belfast after meeting with PSNI boss Hugh Orde. McDowell demanded to know what they had to say about the threats against his family and the Sunday World paper, but members of the commission refused to comment.

Commission chair, the Rev Mervyn Gibson, later said they had not instigated the boycott but it had been called by an organisation and the commission was then asked to endorse it. " We condemn any threats against an individual, but refuse to withdraw our support for the boycott campaign," he said.

Jim McDowell described UDA claims about the paper as lies and said he would not be forced out of the North and neither would the paper change its editorial policies. "Freedom of the press and freedom of speech are two cornerstones of a free society and I am not going to be bullied by these fascist tactics," he vowed.

The National Union of Journalists said the threat was "another attack on the media in the North" and called on the UDA to remove it.

The Sunday World has been targeted by unionist paramilitaries on many occasions in the past. In September 2001, Martin O'Hagan a reporter with the paper, was shot dead near his Lurgan home by members of the LVF.

Sectarian assault on Antrim schoolboy

Paul Turtle, a 15-year-old schoolboy and the child of a mixed marriage, suffered a broken nose and bruising when he was attacked by crowd of loyalists as he was walking to St Malachy's School in Antrim Town on Friday 28 March.

The gang shouted sectarian abuse as they assaulted him. Jacqueline Turtle said her son had been singled out because he had Catholic friends and lived in the nationalist Rathenraw estate in the town.

"He was going to school when the crowd started beating him and calling him a Fenian lover," she said. "The doctors at the hospital said his nose was broken and he has a sore cheekbone where they punched him. He was very lucky he didn't receive a serious eye injury as his glasses had been smashed."

The schoolboy is very worried about his safety as he spent two days in hospital last year after he received a death threat from the UVF. Ironically, the family moved to St Malachy's as a result of sectarian attacks and abuse elsewhere.

"It's at the stage he is scared to go out on his own and if he is going into Antrim town centre he wants an adult to go with him," said his mother.

Sinn Féin South Antrim councillor Martin Meehan said Sinn Féin has been working on the ground for some time now to put an end to these sectarian attacks. "They have to stop now before it is too late and someone is killed."

Racists target Ballymena family

A County Antrim family has been targeted in the latest of a series of racially motivated threats in Ballymena orchestrated by white supremacists.

A leaflet was pinned to the door of the family home saying "this is a white area, not for blacks". The note was accompanied by a sticker from a racist group calling itself the White Nationalist Party.

In February, two Filipino nurses had their windows broken and stickers with the slogan of the British National Party were stuck to their door. The nurses were targeted for the second time in six months in what was described as an orchestrated racial attack.

Patrick Yu of the Council for Ethnic Minorities said he was saddened that in today's society a family should be targeted for the colour of their skin.

Sinn Féin councillor Philip McGuigan said all racially motivated threats should stop forthwith. "Ballymena is home to a large Chinese community as well as Filipino nurses who should not have to suffer this abuse coming from brain dead morons," he said.

The White Nationalist Party has also been behind a campaign to halt the building of a Mosque in the Bleary area of Craigavon and has posted a leaflet on its website castigating the proposal, claiming the Mosque could be become a base for 'Islamic terrorists'.

Iraqi welcome signs removed because of bigots

The announcement that the Iraqi Special Olympics team has pulled out of the Special Olympics, due to take place in Ireland in June, was preceded by a hate campaign in Larne.

The six Iraqi children who were due to take part in the games were to be hosted in Larne, County Antrim, but since the commencement of the invasion of their country, signs welcoming them to Larne have had graffiti painted on them.

The signs, erected by Larne Borough Council welcoming the Iraqi children to the town were sprayed with loyalist graffiti.

The graffiti was written after some wives of British soldiers currently serving with the invasion forces in Iraq claimed the signs were "inappropriate".

One sign was vandalised with "Ulster Says No" sprayed on with black spray paint.

The council removed the signs on Wednesday 26 March.

Larne's council Chief executive Colm McGarry said it was a commonsense decision to remove the signs to prevent further vandalism or heightening of feelings.

The DUP Mayor of Larne, Bobby McKee, said that while he could sympathise with local people who had relations in Iraq, the signs should have remained up.

Some 165 towns and cities across Ireland will host athletes competing in the summer games.

They are always harassing the Irish

Delegates from the Troops Out Movement who attended the Sinn Féin Ard Fheis in Dublin were stopped and harassed by members of the British intelligence services at the Holyhead Sea Terminal as they returned home to Birmingham on Monday, 31 March.

Mary Pearson and her partner, Joe Glenholmes, told An Phoblacht there was no reason for them to be stopped and accused MI5 of harassment.

Said Glenholmes: "When we asked who we were being stopped by we were informed it was MI5. They ransacked our baggage, we were told that MI5 had a quota to keep up and that's why we were stopped".

The pair were then held for over an hour and a half at the Welsh port, which meant they missed the connecting bus to Birmingham.

"I am very angry," Glenholmes told An Phoblacht. "We had to go via Chester and Crewe to get home. We didn't arrive home until 8.15am.

"A worker at the train and bus station told us that Special Branch and MI5 are always stopping and harassing Irish people coming of the boat.

"It is ridiculous, if this is happening why are people not speaking out about it. I will be contacting Gerry Adams, my own MP in Birmingham and the trade union I belong to about the ongoing harassment carried out against anyone who is Irish" said Glenholmes.

Draperstown protest at death drivers

A rally organised by the Families Bereaved Through Car Crime (FBTCC) attracted over 250 people in Draperstown, County Derry on Saturday 29 March.

Relatives of 22-year-old Gareth Farrelly, who was killed as a result of a collision in July 2001, were joined by more than 30 members of the Belfast-based group, including relatives of teenage victim Debbie McComb, politicians and members of community groups.

Addressing the rally, Gareth Farrelly's brother John said he was very moved by the turnout, adding that the rally was called to prove that car crime happened in rural areas as well as cities.

An Phoblacht
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