Loyalist hate campaign to drive out Catholics

Loyalists have a mounted a new campaign of intimidation to drive Catholics out of south Belfast.

Graffiti has been daubed on walls as part of a new offensive, aimed particularly at posh mixed developments in the city centre area.

Leaflets have also been distributed urging residents to back moves to have all Catholics forced out.

The leaflets claimed: “Catholics wouldn’t let us live on the Falls - why should we let them live here?”

The campaign has been based around the staunchly unionist Sandy Row district, close to an area also troubled plagued by racial attacks.

One building was covered in painted messages for all “republican spies” and nationalists to leave.

With the Protestant marching season ratcheting up, loyalists warned efforts to get Catholics out would be intensified.

Four men, who refused to be named and denied they were paramilitaries, vowed to do whatever it took to get all Catholics to quit the area.

“We want these people to leave, but if it comes to it they could be ordered out at just 24 hours’ notice,” one said.

Said another: “These people don’t belong here and we have to maintain every wee bit of Ulster soil that’s left.”

Bob Stoker, an Ulster Unionist councillor for south Belfast and former Lord Mayor, refused to condemn the graffiti.

In the last two years Catholic residents living in the luxury apartments at Whitehall Square, on the edge of Sandy Row, have been the victims of an orchestrated campaign of intimidation.

The apartment complex was singled out for special mention in a unionist paramilitary magazine.

‘Taigs Out’ was daubed on walls of the apartment block on a number of occasions last year and loyalist bunting was erected outside apartment windows.

Apartments were attacked with paint bombs and a cleaning company em-ployed to remove the graffiti had its vehicle set on fire by four men armed with baseball bats.

A number of Catholic resident were forced to move in fear of their lives.

Sinn Féin’s Alex Maskey said unionist and loyalist leaders in Sandy Row must act to have the threats lifted.

“There has been a long campaign of intimidation against Catholics living in Whitehall Square and this latest incident is a very worrying development,” the South Belfast assembly member said.

“Community leaders in Sandy Row must condemn these threats and do all in their power to ensure that Catholics can live free from intimidation.”


Meanwhile, ball-bearing attacks have continued on the homes of republicans in the west Belfast area, with attacks on Sinn Féin Councillors Chrissie McAuley, Paul Butler and Fra McCann in the past week.

Speaking after her home was damaged overnight, Councillor McAuley those carrying out the attacks were furnished with “accurate and up to date information on the addresses of republicans in West Belfast.

“One obvious source of such information is the PSNI Special Branch. These attacks are not random, they are co-ordinated and well planned.

“If this was happening to any other political party the great and the good would be making their voices heard. So far we have had nothing but silence from other political representatives or the governments.”

* Racial motivations are being investigated in the murder of a Belfast man from injuries he sustained during a beating in County Tyrone.

Forty-year-old Brij Sharma was assaulted in Cookstown at the weekend and died in hospital last night. Two men, aged 20 and 25, appeared in court yesterday in connection with the incident.

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© 2004 Irish Republican News