Sectarian rampage in Tyrone village
A loyalist mob rampaged through the Catholic district in the Tyrone village of Castlederg last week.
A night of destruction and violence following a loyalist band parade and bonfire in the town on Friday night.
The mob attack centred on the nationalist Ferguson Crescent district at around 3am, when 30 to 40 loyalists marched into the area, assaulted a small group of nationalists and smashed a number of windows.
Sinn Féin’s Cllr Charlie McHugh is demanding answers from the PSNI police.
“Why did the PSNI pull out of the area at 3 am on Saturday morning while a large crowd of loyalists were still congregated around a bonfire at the bottom end of the town before they went on the rampage in the Ferguson Crescent area, including carrying out assaults and damaging to property?” demanded Cllr McHugh.
He believes the departure of the PSNI gave the mob at the bonfire the “invitation” to walk into a nationalist area with “only one intention, to cause havoc and assault”.
Cllr McHugh also expressed outrage that a number of nationalists were arrested in relation to this incident.
“These nationalists have been arrested for doing nothing but defend themselves and their property when they came under attack by a group of loyalists,” he said.
A local nationalist resident who witnessed Saturday mornings events said, “Loyalists came up past Ferguson Crescent going as far as the Castlefinn Road where a lot of people very heavily assaulted with a number of windows broken in businesses and houses.
“This is one of the biggest incidents and most serious in Castlederg under a system of peace. It is the usual story of band parade nights and the residents and shopkeepers are sickened by it.”
The eyewitness says similar police treatment of the nationalist community in Castlederg has gone on for decades.
“This is something that has happened in Castlederg for the past 40 years. The police always pull out and let them at it. They came up with one intention, going the furthest they have ever gone into a nationalist area and causing destruction.
“I personally asked the police why they left the area and I got no answer.”
Meanwhile, there was anger when the Parades Commission agreed to allow over 1,000 hardline loyalists to gather in the nationalist village of Rasharkin, County Antrim resulting in many Catholic families being forced to leave their homes for the evening.
The Parades Commission put no restrictions on the sectarian parade last week which included 40 loyalist bands and up to 1,000 ‘supporters’.
“This is a totally unacceptable situation,” said North Antrim Sinn Féin Assembly member Daithi McKay.
“The violent actions of loyalists at this parade in the past three years, including an assault on a Catholic woman, the burning of tricolours on the street and a litany of sectarian incidents have clearly been ignored to the amazement of local residents.
“The Parades Commission has decided not to put in place any legally binding code of conduct which would have meant that loyalists taking part in this parade could be brought to book for sectarian behaviour and intimidation.
“It is clear that loyalist paramilitaries are involved, indeed some of the bands are quite open about their connections with both the UDA and UVF.
“People here are disgusted that the Parades Commission has refused to view evidence of how the Pride of The Maine band broke the law on numerous occasions at a parade in Rasharkin last week.”