Unionists escalate intimidation
Hundreds of unionists held a mass anti-Catholic rally outside
the Whitehall Square apartments in Belfast city centre on
Wednesday evening in the latest effort to intimidate Catholics
out of the area.
PSNI police were nowhere to be seen as fears of violence mounted
in the course of the evening.
Local Ulster Unionist Party councillor Bob Stoker was reported
to have said that Catholics should not be living in the area and
they should leave or suffer the consequences.
He defended the action, which he said was in response to attacks
on Protestants by republicans in nearby Sandy Row.
However, last night the police admitted they were not aware of
any attacks on Protestants in the district.
The Whitehall Square apartments have been attacked on a number
of occasions in the last two years forcing a number of Catholics
to flee their luxury flats.
Sectarian graffiti was daubed on the development on Wednesday
morning and the distribution of hate leaflets was an escalation
of the campaign.
Nationalist politicians accused Mr Stoker of inflaming tensions
following his refusal to condemn the leaflets and for other
comments he made.
Sinn Féin assembly member Alex Maskey said Mr Stokers remarks
touched on incitement to hatred.
There can be no justification for attacks and intimidation of
the kind witnessed in the Village area. Catholics have as much
right to live in the Village area as anyone else, he said.
Other UUP politicians appeared divided on the issue. Assembly
member Esmond Birnie described the rally as intimidatory.
while fellow UUP assembly member Michael McGimpsey described it
as a non-threatening protest.
Alex Maskey called on the UUP leader David Trimble to
immediately clarify his partys position regarding the
The ongoing intimidation and the protest last night raises
serious questions about the role of the UUP in all of this. Is
the justification of attacks on Catholics and the intimidation
of people from their homes UUP policy?
He said the UUP are very good at lecturing republicans yet
no contradiction in justifying and encouraging intimidation and
violence against vulnerable Catholics. If any other party was
engaged in such activity there would be a media outcry.
Meanwhile, the attempted abduction of a 14-year old school boy
on his way to school in North Belfast this morning was blamed on
The St Patricks College School pupil was on his way to school
at about 8.30 when he was approached by two men driving a red
car as he made his way from the Cliftonville Road to school on
the Antrim Road past Brookfield.
The schoolboy was asked if he was a Catholic and then the men
attempted to abduct him in what was the second attempted
abduction of a Catholic in this area within the past week.
The earlier incident, that also involved a St Patricks college
schoolboy, occurred in the Newington area less than 100 yards
away from the latest incident.
Local Assembly member Kathy Stanton urged nationalists
throughout North Belfast to be extremely vigilant as there
appears to be a concerted effort by a unionist paramilitary
group to abduct a Catholic.
This appear to be part of a pattern increasing unionist
paramilitary activity throughout North Belfast which will only
increase tensions in the run up to the Orange Order marching
Meanwhile, a family was targeted in a pipe-bomb attack at their
home in County Down.
The device landed on the roof of a shed behind a house in the
mainly loyalist Breezemount Rise in the early hours of Thursday
morning. It exploded, breaking a rear bedroom window and causing
damage to a wardrobe.
The bomb was thrown from an alleyway behind the house.