Sectarian attacks continue

A bomb attack on a Catholic church in County Down is the latest in a series of sectarian attacks across the North.

The home-made device exploded on the windowsill of Our Lady Star of the Sea Church at Nunsquarter, Kircubbin.

But Parish Priest Colm McBride suggested whoever was responsible may have been working alone.

He said: “It was a very crude device and there`s been nothing at all like this before.”

Last weekend, a County Down teenager was the victim of a brutal sectarian attack. Sixteen-year-old Matthew Brannigan continued to be mocked by a loyalist mob as the PSNI looked on.

The attack began when one of his friends was spotted wearing a raincoat with a Gaelic sports motif at a motorbike event near Toome.

“There was about 18-20 people in the gang, and not just young lads, there were men in their 40s, all screaming abuse,” said Matthew’s mother, Elizabeth.

“Then a couple of the gang pulled out flick knives,” she stated. “At that stage one of the gang ran forward and punched Matthew in the face.

“We thank our lucky stars Matthew didn’t fall to the ground when he was punched. If he had, I don’t think they would have let him get back up.”

Matthew suffered a swollen, bloody face as a result of the punch. Had his friends not grabbed him and started running, he might have suffered worse.

After the group had evaded the pursuing gang, they realised they had lost one of their friends. It was then they found a PSNI, who Elizabeth has described as “unresponsive.”

The gang who had attacked Matthew then reappeared and continued to hurl sectarian abuse at the teenagers, in front of police officers.

“Matthew pointed out to the police that the gang were shouting sectarian remarks, and the policeman just replied, ‘Sure they’re only joking,’” Mrs Brannigan continued.

“I’m so angry with the police, when I think what could have happened to Matthew. The police officers, in my eyes, did nothing.”


Last week saw an arson attack on an Orange Hall in Portadown, County Armagh and an apparent arson attack on a Sinn Féin office in County Fermanagh.

The blaze at Seagoe Orange Hall in Portadown followed a number of attacks on the nationalist community in the Portadown area over the past week. It destroyed the banner of the Order’s lodge, some pictures, windows and chairs.

Despite a history of entrenched sectarian polarisation in the town, this was the first time that this Orange Hall had been attacked.

Local Sinn Féin representative, Councillor Dessie Ward, said he condemned the attack “without reservation”.

“All of us are trying to move on but unfortunately there is a small number of people intent on dragging us backwards. They won’t succeed,” he said.

Meanwhile, investigations were being carried out today in a bid to determine the cause of a fire at a Sinn Féin office run by local MP Michelle Gildernew.

Three floors of the four-storey building in Lisnaskea, Co Fermanagh, were gutted in the blaze.

A PSNI spokeswoman said they are treating the blaze as “suspicious” .

Ms Gildernew, MP for Fermanagh-South Tyrone, said the fire had destroyed important work being carried out on behalf of her constituents.

She added the blaze will not just impact on Sinn Féin work, but also on members of the community who use the centre.

“We now have to assess the damage and look at what can be recovered in terms of correspondence and files,” she said.

“Then we will have to set about the job of rebuilding our base in the area. I hope that we will still be in a position to offer our support to the local community, but would ask people who have contacted the offices in recent days to have a little patience and to contact us again at a later date.”

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