Gunmen vent sectarian rage at Gaelic supporters
Gunmen vent sectarian rage at Gaelic supporters

Loyalist gunmen opened fire on a family's home in County Derry because they flew a Gaelic football flag yesterday. Three people escaped injury in the early hours attack in Coleraine.

The family, who have lived in the predominantly Protestant Ballysally estate for 20 years, have now moved out.

The three adults were inside the house when gunmen opened fire at about 12.30am, but no-one was injured. The bullets caused minor damage to the front door and a window.

It was the second attack on the family's home this week. The house was also targeted on Tuesday night when a County Tyrone Gaelic supporters' flag was removed from the house, wrapped around a brick and thrown through a window.

Fermanagh South Tyrone MP Michelle Gildernew drew a link between the words of unionist politicians attacking the GAA and the All Ireland football final and sectarian attacks such as that in Coleraine.

Ms Gildernew said: ``Unionism must accept responsibility for the sectarian attacks coming from within their own community directed at nationalists.

She added: ``Taken in conjunction with some of the inflammatory comments made by unionists around the sectarian intimidation of Catholics attending a Cemetery Sunday mass in Carnmoney it is clear that there is a link between the sectarian rhetoric of unionist politicians and the sectarian attacks of unionist paramilitaries.

``Now it appears that there will be legislation dealing with sectarianism, racism and homophobia there be specific measures to tackle incitement to sectarian, racist or homophobic hatred. The right to `freedom from sectarian harassment' must be given legislative muscle and must include legislation specifically dealing with the problem of incitement to sectarian hatred.

``On a daily basis there is growing evidence of the pain and damage to the peace process resulting from the sectarian campaign of intimidation and attack of the unionist paramilitaries. While there is a focus, particularly of Unionist politicians, on alleged republican activity the reality is that overwhelmingly, violence today is coming form the unionist community and is directed at nationalists.

``The issue of equality and of freedom from sectarian harassment are key components of the Good Friday Agreement and the failure to implement commitments in these areas is acknowledged in the Joint Declaration from the two governments. There is a commitment to give legislative effect through the Bill of Rights, the Single Equality Bill and through legislation to tackle racism and sectarianism.

``A key component of any legislation on sectarianism, racism or homophobia must be to target incitement to hatred. There must also be similar moves to outlaw incitement to racist hatred. There must be legislative muscle to stamp out the poison of sectarianism. In particular such legislation must be effective in challenging the attitudes and responses of unionist politicians to the sectarianism emanating form their community.''

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin Representative for Newry & Armagh Conor Murphy has demanded that the BBC apologise to the wider Catholic and nationalist community after their presenter Wendy Austin joked about the Coleraine gun attack on the Good Morning Ulster radio programme.

The news prompted Wendy Austin, the unionist host of the show, to quip that `we are not suggesting Armagh fans carried this out', followed by a laugh.

Mr Murphy said: This was a disgraceful remark with the clear intention to trivialise the fact that unionist paramilitaries had attempted to murder a Catholic family.

``The BBC need to deal with this matter urgently. They must apologise to the family concerned who have now had to leave their home of 20 years, and they should also apologise to the wider Catholic and Nationalist community. As a representative of that community I can assure Wendy Austin that living in the face of a violent campaign being waged by unionist paramilitaries is no laughing matter.''

A BBC spokeswoman later denied the comment was an attempt to make light of the situation and claimed Austin's remark was to highlight the sectarian nature of the attack.


In other news, it has emerged that two boys, aged 13 and 14, were attacked by loyalists in Durham Street in the Lower Falls area of Belfast on Saturday. A blue Corsa car carrying three loyalists sped into Durham Street, where the occupants jumped out and attacked a young boy outside a local shop before local residents chased them away.

One resident said she heard the gang shout ``Up the UDA'' before the car drove on up Barrack Street, where the occupants again jumped out and began to beat another teenager with a baseball bat.

In the loyalist Sandy Row area, unionist paramilitaries attacked four cleaning workers who were removing sectarian graffiti from an appartment block.

Shortly after the workers arrived at Whitehall Square at midday on Friday 26 September, their van was attacked by four men wielding baseball bats. They set the van on fire after smashing the windscreen.

This is third time the apartment block has been targeted. Sectarian slogans warning Catholics to leave the area were daubed on the outside walls and less than a week later, paint bombs were thrown at the building.

The block is being targeted by unionist paramilitaries because a number of the apartments are owned by property developers in the 26 Counties.

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© 2003 Irish Republican News