Republican News · Thursday 20 September 2000

[An Phoblacht]

Sectarian attack in Newcastle

The future of blood and thunder loyalist demonstrations in the County Down town of Newcastle may be in doubt following violence associated with last Saturday's loyalist march, local Sinn Féin spokesperson Willie Clarke says.

Clarke's comments came after details emerged of a brutal sectarian stabbing carried out by loyalists attending a rally on Saturday, 9 September. At around 10.30pm, a local man left a bar in the centre of Newcastle to go to the town's night club. The man had almost reached Central Park when he was approached by up to a dozen loyalists who had earlier attended a ``kick the pope'' band parade. The man was hit on the head with a bottle and stabbed in the side with jagged piece of the broken glass. The injured man was spotted by a doorman, who rang for an ambulance to take the man to hospital, where he received 14 staples to the wound in his side.

The Sinn Féin spokesperson said he had written to the Parades Commission in relation to the incident and had urged it to carefully reflect on the physical, financial and communal damage caused before granting any future blood and thunder loyalist marches in Newcastle.

The stabbing was the most serious of a number of sectarian attacks following the loyalist demonstration. Members of a loyalist band returning to Glengormley after the march chased a group of young nationalists when they stopped off at Ballynahinch. In Hillcrest Drive, loyalists broke the windows of a parked car.

Local residents who alerted the RUC to the loyalist vandalism, were subjected to further harassment from members of the RUC, who checked their vehicles' tax discs. A female RUC officer attempted to excuse the behaviour of the loyalist band members by claiming they had been provoked.

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