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pfc/Sectarian incidents November 1-30 2002

category national | miscellaneous | news report author Wednesday December 18, 2002 14:46author by Andrew Report this post to the editors

The following list of sectarian and other hate-driven incidents and attacks is from 1 through 30 November 2002. The criteria we use for inclusion is based on the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) criteria; if a person/organisation feels that the motivation for an attack against them was sectarian (or racist or homophobic), then it should be counted as such. We rely on a number of sources for our information, but this is by no means comprehensive. If you find incidents that have been left off the list please contact us. A full dossier of sectarian and other hate attacks from January 1999 until October 2002 is available on our website at www.serve.com/pfc.

pfc/Sectarian incidents November 1-30 2002
From: Pat Finucane Centre

November 1, Friday. Loyalists seriously assaulted and then attempted to kidnap a Catholic man on the Ormeau Road in south Belfast. Local sources say it was the latest in a series of serious assaults on Catholics in the area. The man spent several days in intensive care. (PSNI, CW)

November 2, Saturday. Harry McCartan, a 23-year-old Catholic from Poleglass in West Belfast, was found beaten and nailed to a fence in the loyalist Seymour Hill estate in south Belfast. Although the RUC/PSNI ruled out a sectarian motive, his attackers, loyalist paramilitaries who later claimed the attack was a punishment beating, are understood to have made reference to the fact that they had found "a Catholic". Loyalist politicians admitted the victim's religion might have been a contributing factor to the severity of the attack. (IN, BBC, SBN)

November 3, Sunday. Lord Laird of the Ulster Scots Agency announced that he would be lodging a complaint with the Equality Commission in response to an Irish News column written by prominent SDLP man Tom Kelly. Laird took offence to Kelly describing the Ulster Scots language as 'gibberish' and argued that this was "a matter for the Equality Commission to look at this issue in terms of incitement to racial hatred." (IN)

November 4, Monday. Loyalists were blamed for a petrol and paint bomb attack on St. Paul's GAA Club in Holywood, Co. Down. The building suffered only minor damage. Local DUP assembly member Peter Weir condemned "this type of wanton sectarianism." It was the second time this year that the club was attacked. The PSNI later arrested a 16-year-old youth in connection with the attack. He was then released on police bail. (IN, PSNI, BBC)

November 5, Tuesday. The SDLP's John Tierney was quoted in the Derry Journal as saying that reports of the far-right British National Party (BNP) contesting the next Euro elections in the north were "deeply disturbing." He went on to say that "the racism and ultra-nationalism of the BNP is a close cousin of the sectarianism peddled by extremists across the north of Ireland and must be opposed at every turn." (DJ, BBC)

The NIO published figures on racially motivated crimes across the north. Racist attacks - particularly in Belfast - have been on the rise in recent years. According to the NIO, figures for 2000/2001 show 260 racially motivated incidents reported to the PSNI. The latest figures for 2001/2002 already stand at 185. Anti-racist and ethnic minority groups continually stress that such figures grossly underestimate the actual number of racist attacks occurring because of the reluctance of victims to report incidents to the police. (AN, CW, PFC, BBC)

November 7, Thursday. The Derry News reported that "senior police officers believe the UDA and UVF have launched a major recruiting campaign in the Waterside [area of Derry] as part of a mounting campaign." Loyalists have been escalating their sectarian campaign of violence against Catholics living in the city's mostly Protestant Waterside. (DN, IN, BBC)

It emerged that DUP councillors in Ballymena had refused to endorse a letter of support congratulating Ballymena-born actor Liam Neeson on being awarded an OBE from the Queen. According to the DUP's Robin Sterling, Neeson once "spoke pejoratively of his upbringing in an 'Orange town' and said as a Catholic it was not wise or safe to go out the door on the Twelfth." The motion for drafting the letter was passed despite not having full DUP support. (IN, BBC, CW)

A Catholic man from Derry was fined £250 by the city's Resident Magistrate for having thrown a missile towards the Apprentice Boys Memorial Hall. (DJ, CW)

November 9, Saturday. In an article in the South Belfast News, the widow of Charlie McGrillen called on loyalists to stop attacking her late husband's grave. McGrillen was murdered by the UFF 14 years ago. According to his widow, Catherine Gormley, his grave has been attacked at least 20 times over the years and she has spent over £3,000 on repairs. She has also called on Belfast City Council to help her out with any future repairs to the grave in the city's Roselawn cemetery. "He was a good man who didnít have a sectarian bone in his body," she said. McGrillen was a high-profile trade unionist with the Transport and General workers Union. (SBN)

The South Belfast News reported that a 24-year-old refugee from Sierra Leone had left her home following a series of racist attacks. According to a report released by the NI Assembly, south Belfast has the highest rate of racist crime in the North. The victim also accused the RUC/PSNI of not taking such crimes seriously. (SBN, CW)

Loyalists attacked a Catholic home in Westland Road, north Belfast, as a Catholic woman and her two grandchildren were sleeping inside. The attack occurred in the early hours of Saturday morning. According to the North Belfast News, loyalists threw "a large slab of concrete wrapped in a black plastic bin liner and soaked in an unknown substance came crashing through their living room window." It wasnít the first time the home had been targeted. No one was injured in the attack. (NBN, IN)

November 11, Monday. The North Belfast News reported that loyalists held a 400-strong rally at the junction of Brougham Street and North Queen Street. The rally was to commemorate the death of 16-year-old Glen Branagh. Branagh was a member of the Ulster Young Militants - the UDA's youth wing - who died in November 2001 when a pipe bomb he was about to throw exploded in his hand. (NBN)

November 12, Tuesday. In east Belfast, loyalists threw stones, bottles, bricks, and fireworks into the Catholic Short Strand enclave at Madrid Street and Clandeboye. (CW)

November 13, Wednesday. NIO minister Des Browne wrote to all six of North Belfastís Assembly members to let them know that plans for a 'peace' wall/fence along the Ardoyne Road have been scrapped. The minister cited lack of "sufficient consensus with both communities" for scrapping the project. The wall/fence was to have been built along the interface between the Catholic Ardoyne and Protestant Glenbryn areas. This area was at the heart of recent the Holy Cross Primary School dispute in which loyalists prevented young Catholic school children from walking to school. (IN, NBN)

Loyalists stoned Catholic mass goers as they entered St Matthew's Chapel in the Short Strand in east Belfast. (CW)

November 14, Thursday. Remarks made in an interview given by UUP leader and suspended First Minister David Trimble to the Chicago Sun-Times were denounced by nationalist politicians on both sides of the border as 'sectarian rambling.' Trimble's most controversial statement concerned the Republic of Ireland. He said that "if you took away Catholicism and anti-Britishness, the state doesn't have a reason to exist." Previously, Trimble had referred to the South as a "pathetic, sectarian, mono-ethnic, mono-cultural state." In the Sun-Times interview he also made the claim that you couldn't fly the Union Jack in the Republic of Ireland, a claim hotly denied by the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs and the British Embassy in Dublin. (IN, BBC, BT)

In east Belfast, loyalists stoned Catholic homes in Clandeboye, in the Short Strand. (CW)

There was controversy over the motive behind a suspected loyalist petrol bomb attack on a pub in Main Street, Scarva. The owner of the pub was adamant that there was no "political, religious, or sectarian" dimension to the attack, Sinn Fein insisted that the pub was targeted because of its mainly Catholic clientele. (PSNI, BBC)

November 15, Friday. In east Belfast, loyalists attacked St Matthew's church just before the start of 7 o'clock Mass. (CW)

In Cluan Place, loyalists stoned Catholic homes in Clandeboye Gardens from 4.30pm into the early hours of the morning. (CW)

November 16, Saturday. Loyalists throwing bricks, bottles and fireworks engaged in "sporadic but heavy" attacks on Catholic homes in Clandeboye Gardens in the Short Strand, east Belfast. The attacks lasted into the early hours of Sunday morning. (CW)

The home of a Catholic family living along North Belfast's Westland Road was attacked in the early hours of the morning. A brick was thrown through the living room window. The attack is being linked to the opening of a new loyalist-drinking den in the nearby Westland estate. (NBN, BBC, PSNI)

November 17, Sunday. A pipe bomb discovered in Portadown, Co. Armagh, was made safe by a British Army bomb disposal team. The pipe bomb was discovered in the mainly - Catholic Obins Drive area of the town and residents claimed that it had been thrown into the street from a neighbouring loyalist estate. "This is the seventh attempt by loyalists to carry out another blatant sectarian attack on nationalist homes in Portadown," said Sinn Fein Upper Bann Assembly Member Dara OíHagan. (IN, CW, PSNI)

In east Belfast loyalists carried out sustained bottle, brick, firework and paint bomb attacks on Catholic homes in Clandeboye Drive and Clandeboye Gardens in the Short Strand. The attacks lasted from 12.00pm into the early hours of Monday morning. (CW)

A Chinese man living in south Belfast was the victim of a suspected racist knife attack. Three masked men broke into his house and demanded money. The victim was pistol whipped and slashed repeatedly. There have been a growing number of attacks on Belfastís Chinese community. "I am very concerned that there are some people who are purposely trying to give a message to people on the Donegall Road area [of Belfast] that they want ethnic minorities moved out," said Monica McWilliams of the Women's Coalition. (IN, SBN, PSNI)

November 18, Monday. NIO Minister Des Browne announced the formation of a new government initiative - a new 'Community Action Group' - aimed at tackling sectarian graffiti, flags and emblems. The initiative will involve the PSNI, the Housing Executive and the Community Relations Council. Mark Durkan of the SDLP pointed out that, "this initiative will only be useful if it has teeth and is driven by 100 per cent political commitment." (IN, BBC)

More sectarian violence erupted at the Short Strand/Cluan Place interface in east Belfast, with fireworks, a blast bomb and petrol bombs being thrown at Catholic homes. A home in the Catholic Clandeboye area of the Short Strand caught fire after a petrol bomb attack. The PSNI also reported shots being fired from the Short Strand into Cluan Place, though residents in the Short Strand insist it was the other way around. Loyalists also blocked the Albertbridge Road, from where shots were fired towards Catholic protesters on Mountpottinger Road. Short Strand residents complained of partial and heavy-handed treatment at the hands of security forces. (IN, CW, BBC)

November 19, Tuesday. Several loyalist pipe bombs were thrown into the mainly Catholic Short Strand at Strand Walk and at Bryson Street. There were also reports of a shot being fired from the Short Strand area. There were no injuries. Later fireworks were thrown from Cluan Place into Clandeboye Drive. (UTV, CW)

November 20, Wednesday. In North Tyrone Mark Robinson of the UVF-aligned PUP demanded the removal of a bi-lingual sign erected by Strabane District Council in the predominantly Protestant village of Magheramason. "Ö the PUP will be sending a strong letter of disgust to the Strabane District Council outlining to them that Irish signs will not be tolerated by the Protestant people of Northern Ireland and that any signs erected in Protestant estates in the future should be in the English language," he said. (DN)

PSNI raids in north Belfast's Westland estate uncovered a cache of loyalist weapons along with £40,000 worth of ecstasy and cannabis. The estate is regarded as a UDA stronghold. The SDL'ís Martin Morgan argued that it was "common knowledge" that a number of sectarian attacks on north Belfast Catholics had been launched from the estate. "Just a few months ago," added Morgan, "the UDA's then commander who was based in the Westland gave a newspaper interview telling how Catholics would pay the price for loyalist anger." (NBN, BBC, PSNI)

More sectarian violence erupted in east Belfast. Stones and missiles were thrown from each side of the Short Strand/Cluan Place interface. Both sides blamed the other for the violence. (UTV)

November 21, Thursday Catholics are still under-represented in the Northern Irish workforce, according to a new study from the Equality Commission. Inequalities were most evident in the security-related sector and the Civil Service, the survey revealed

Figures revealed that 91.3% of people working full-time in security-related jobs are Protestant, while only 8.7% are Catholic. Just over 60% of civil servants are Protestant.
Evelyn Collins, the commission's Chief Executive, said there remained an "overall under-representation of Roman Catholics in the workforce. Roman Catholic participation in the full-time workforce is now 39.5%, and this compares to an estimated 43% of the Catholic population who are available for work," The report also highlighted the degree of segregation in the workplace where, "40% of all private sector concerns with more than 25 employees employ less than 10 Protestants or less than 10 Roman Catholics". (NL, see www.equalityni.org)

November 23, Saturday. In an article that appeared in the South Belfast News, a representative of Belfast's African Cultural Centre claimed that a number of racist attacks had occurred in the Village area of South Belfast and had gone unreported. A councillor for the area, Bob Stoker, admitted that racists live in the area but added, "the Trossachs area of Upper Malone has as bad a race problem as the Village." (SBN)

Loyalists attacked the homes and cars of Catholics living in Violet Street on Derry's Waterside in the early hours of Saturday morning. "This is not the first such incident and urgent action needs to be taken to protect this area from drink-fuelled sectarian bigots," said Councillor Lynn Fleming of Sinn Féin. (DJ, DN)

November 26, Tuesday. A motion brought before the Derry City Council to officially change the name of the city from "Londonderry" to "Derry" was defeated. Sinn Fein's Barney O'Hagan brought the motion before the council. The DUP's Gregory Campbell had earlier branded the motion "blatantly sectarian." Sinn Fein said afterwards it was now considering a referendum to put the issue to a city-wide vote. In response, an SDLP councillor asked, "What would happen if Portadown was to hold a plebiscite about whether Orangemen should be allowed to walk down the Garvaghy Road." [Derry City Council officially changed its name in 1984. Therefore, the Council is officially called Derry, the city is officially Londonderry, but Derry is officially acceptable and used by the majority of people though the media tend to alternate between the two. The county is, and always has been, Londonderry, since its name was changed from Coleraine. If you want to come here you can choose between City of Derry airport and Londonderry railway station. The main Protestant loyal order in the city is the Apprentice Boys of Derry, who, in their terms, commemorate the Siege of Derry by marching on Derry's Walls in Londonderry. Official documents - driving licence etc - insist on the use of Londonderry. Some organisations use one, or all, of Derry, Londonderry, Doire, and L'Derry. Not confusing at all.] (LS, DJ, DN, IN, BT)

November 27, Wednesday. The Mayor of Belfast, Alex Maskey (SF), made an appeal to both the British and Irish governments to work towards ending sectarian violence in east Belfast. "Many residents are concerned that some politicians appear more interested in placing blame than seeking solutions," said Maskey. "I will certainly continue in my own efforts and commitment to dialogue with residents, but this needs the attention and support of both governments." (UTV)

Mark John Pilling, a 38-year-old from Derry's Waterside, appeared before the Magistrates Court in Limavady. Pilling - a former British soldier - was charged with attempted murder, membership of the UDA, three counts of conspiracy to murder, explosive charges, possessing firearms with intent to endanger life and intimidation. The attempted murder charge was reported to be related to a gun attack on a Catholic lorry driver last November. Pilling has previously claimed to be the spokesperson for "North Antrim & Londonderry Independent Ulster Loyalists" and a representative of the UDA-aligned Ulster Political Research Group. Pilling was arrested during a series of PSNI raids along with six others who were released pending police reports. Pilling was on bail at the time of his arrest, after being charged in September with having information likely to be of use to terrorists. See September sectarian attacks. (IN, DN, DJ, PFC,BT)

November 28, Thursday. The Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) denied claims that its organisation is sectarian. The IRFU was responding to comments made by an assistant to UUP assembly member Joan Carson. The assistant, Mr. Kenneth Donaldson, argued that - when the Irish rugby team plays at Landsdowne Road stadium in Dublin -- flying the Irish Tricolour and playing the Irish national anthem before the match was sectarian. "Non-Irish nationalists who make the trip from Northern Ireland to Landsdowne Road are treated to a foreign national anthem which is passed off as being representative of them," said Donaldson. The IRFU said that matters such as playing the Irish national anthem were "not an issue" amongst supporters of the Irish rugby team. (The Irish rugby team is an all-Ireland team and is made up of both Protestant and Catholics.) (IN)

Loyalists petrol bombed the home of a young Catholic mother and her three-year-old daughter on the Springfield Road in west Belfast. (AN)

November 29, Friday. Republicans were blamed for a petrol bomb attack on a house in the Protestant Village area of South Belfast. The attack occurred in the early hours of the morning at a home in Tavanagh Street. A community worker in the Catholic St. James area - which borders the Village - dismissed the claims. The community worker argued that republicans/nationalists were not behind the attack and that the UDA were simply looking for an excuse to raise community tensions. (AN)

November 30, Saturday. The North Belfast News reported that two north Belfast taxi firms - one Catholic and the other Protestant - had issued a joint call for an end to sectarian attacks on their drivers. The firms own about 130 cabs between then. According to the owners, their cabs come under regular attack by stone throwers and "it is going to end up with a passenger or taximan being killed or scarred for life." (NBN)

Sources:

AN: Andersonstown News

BT: Belfast Telegraph

BBC: BBC radio and television news, BBC online, Radio Foyle

CW: Local community workers

DJ: Derry Journal

DN Derry News

IN: Irish News

IT: Irish Times

ITN: Independent Television News

LS: Londonderry Sentinel

NBN: North Belfast News

NL: Newsletter

PFC: Pat Finucane Centre

RM: RM Distribution

PSNI: Police Service of Northern Ireland press office.

SBN: South Belfast News

ST: Sunday Tribune

UTV: Ulster Television

Related Link: http://www.serve.com/pfc
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