Loyalist terror continues

Up to a hundred loyalists descended on an area of Banbridge, County Down this week terrifying residents and ripping down two Irish flags.

A woman, who did not want to be named, said people were “living in fear” after disturbances erupted outside their homes in the Peggys Loaning area of the town on Tuesday night.

The dispute began when it is understood crowds met at the loyalist Huntley estate -- which is covered in Union Jacks and British-coloured bunting - and made their way to Peggys Loaning to remove two tricolours, which were erected ahead of Banbridge’s first ever internment commemoration on Saturday.

They are believed to have been met by a heavy police presence, with protesters claiming that police had been told there would be a protest if the flags were not removed.

Residents who were trapped in their homes said it was “like being in Beirut”.

“They came down in the hundreds and the police couldn’t control them at all,” said one woman.

“They were intent on taking the flags down. I was petrified. No flag is worth the trouble that this has caused.

“Most people around here think the same. If it’s going to keep trouble away, then we don’t need the flags up.

“Everyone is afraid. We were all stuck in our houses. It’s awful you can’t feel safe in your own home.”

The incident invited parallels to the incident in Coleraine earlier in the summer where loyalists went into an area to remove flags which culminated in the death of Kevin McDaid.

Sinn Féin councillor Dessie Ward criticised local nationalists for erecting the two flags.

“It is my view that the flying of flags from lamp posts shows total disrespect towards the flag,” he said.

“The tri-colour in particular is supposed to represent peace between orange and green; the majority of nationalist residents in the estate are asking themselves how placing their national flag on lamp posts and causing conflict contributes towards that objective.”

A secondary school in north Belfast has been targeted in a petrol and paint-bomb attack, in the latest in a series of incidents in recent months.

A window at St Patrick’s College, Bearnageeha, was smashed and petrol bombs were thrown into the canteen causing some scorch damage.

Paint was also thrown around the building. The damage was discovered early yesterday morning.

In May, sectarian graffiti calling for Catholics to be killed was daubed on walls at the school which is yards from the spot where Catholic schoolboy Thomas Devlin was stabbed to death.

In County Derry, a Protestant man whose home was attacked by a loyalist mob by mistake last weekend has said he is leaving the village after living there for 40 years.

Sixty-two years-old Joseph Hamilton, a Protestant who has lived in the mixed village for four decades, said he and his family were “terrified” when a crowd of up to 40 loyalist bandsmen and supporters attacked his home in Primity Park on Saturday night.

Mr Hamilton said a large terracotta pot was thrown through his living room window and his front door was smashed during the attack, while his nine year-old daughter slept. He said the child was “terrified” by the incident and has had difficulty sleeping since then.

“It happened at 4am and it was absolutely terrifying. There were between 30 and 40 of them and they were throwing stuff at the house, breaking the windows and shouting. Some of them tried to get into the house after breaking the glass in the front door but me and my son held them off,” he said.

The Newbuildings man said he was determined to speak out about the attack. “People told me that I probably shouldn’t say anything about this but I’m not going to be intimidated. I want people to see what is happening in Newbuildings,” he said.

In Tyrone weedkiller has been used to spell out sectarian slogans on two pitches at a GAA club.

The letters ‘UVF’ (Ulster VOlunteer Force) was sprayed on to the playing fields at St Macartan’s GAC in Augher.

Paint has been daubed on a Catholic Church in Ballymena. Paint was thrown at All Saints Church on the Broughshane Road overnight.

And even the home of the North’s former Police Ombudsman Nuala O’Loan was targeted in a sectarian attack this week.

Paint bombs were thrown at the house in Ballymena, County Antrim, where Dame Nuala lives with her husband, nationalist SDLP Assembly member Declan O’Loan.

Police said they were treating the incident as a hate crime with a sectarian motive.

Mr O’Loan said the attack would not stop the family living their lives.

“This was a regrettable incident which the police are actively investigating,” he said.

“The mess will be cleared up and life will go on.”

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