Call to end anti-Protestant attacks
Call to end anti-Protestant attacks

An increase in the number of sectarian attacks against Protestant homes and institutions has been condemned.

Amid marching season trouble across Belfast, attacks took place this week on Protestant homes in the Pitt Place area of east Belfast, including the home of a heavily pregnant woman.

“These attacks were completely wrong and are in no way representative of the Short Strand community,” said Sinn Fein’s east Belfast representative Niall O Donnghaile.

“This trouble is being instigated by young people on both sides, who have been engaged in antisocial behaviour at this same interface for over a year now.”

Mr O Donnghaile said republican and loyalist community leaders were striving to stop such attacks.

Last week, St Matthew’s Catholic church in the Short Strand enclave was paint bombed. There was also a report that it was struck by a petrol bomb during disturbances this week.

Elsewhere, an arson attack on a house in Ballymena was thought to have been anti-Protestant.

The fire at the property in the predominately nationalist Dunclug estate was reported on Sunday evening. Nobody was in the house at the time of the attack.

Pamela Dawson, a niece of the family, said: “It’s the 12th of July and they’re just wanting them out. There’s not many Protestants left in Dunclug.”

There was also a petrol bomb attack on an Orange hall in Dunloy, near Ballymoney, while Belfast Orange Hall at Carisle Circus was paint-bombed on the preceding Thursday night.

The unusual number of anti-Protestant attacks in recent weeks, particularly against Orange halls, comes amid the height of the marching season and an annual surge in sectarian incidents.

The ‘Eleventh Night’ bonfires last weekend revealed the depth of the problem in loyalist communities. Most bonfires featured Irish tricolour flags, to be incinerated in the flames to the cheers of drunken loyalists.

One situated on waste ground in the hard-line Tigers Bay referred to loyalist mass murderer Michael Stone (“Milltown 1988/Stone 3 - IRA 0) and also had a sign displayed saying ‘Trick or Treat’ - a reference to the Greysteel massacre in which eight Catholics were killed.

At Ballycraigy estate in Antrim town, a large tricolour emblazoned with the phrase ‘Keep Antrim Tidy’ (KAT, a reference to the slogan ‘Kill All Taigs!) featured prominently.

An illegal bonfire built at the Donegall Road entrance gates of Belfast City Hospital was burned down higher despite public condemnation.

One late addition was a sign making reference to South Belfast SDLP assembly member Carmel Hanna who publicly criticised its positioning.

Sectarian trouble broke out amid rioting in Belfast this week.

On Wednesday, an arson attack at a Catholic primary school in north Belfast was a concerted attempt to burn down the building.

At least four fires were started at different parts of the St Mary’s school building on the Shore Road and its adjoining boiler house.

Paint and sectarian graffiti was also spattered over the building.

Fr John McManus condemned those responsible, saying it was clearly a planned attack to destroy the school.

SDLP North Belfast councillor Pat Convery said a it was a “despicable sectarian attack” on a Catholic school.

“North Belfast can’t take any more of this tit-for-tat arson.”

Elsewhere, there was a bomb alert outside the Catholic Church in Dunloy in north County Antrim, while a suspicious device was also placed at the Ancient Order of Hibernian Hall in the Rosnashane area, close to the nearby village of Rasharkin.

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© 2009 Irish Republican News