Catholics facing intimidation

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A new Gaelic sports club set up in east Belfast with the goal of uniting communities has already been targeted by loyalists.

The PSNI said they had been warned that “multiple explosive devices” had been planted at Henry Jones Playing Fields in the Castlereagh Hills, with the club forced to abandon training that was taking place. After several hours of searching, the bomb threat was declared a hoax.

East Belfast GAC was founded at the end of May and is the first GAA club in the east of the city in almost 50 years.

The club made its debut in the Down All-County Football League last month and has received a huge interest from people right across the community to take part. Its motto is “together” which features on its crest in Irish, Ulster Scot and English.

SDLP councillor Séamas de Faoite said it was an “appalling attempt to intimidate East Belfast GAA”.

Sinn Fein’s North Belfast MP John Finucane called the threat “despicable”.

“The GAA is inclusive and it welcomes people from all backgrounds and none,” he said. “The sporting fraternity must stand together against this attack on the growth of the GAA and on a society which is moving forward. It’s unacceptable.”

FLAGS

There have been calls for flags glorifying an infamous loyalist serial killer to be taken down. Flags bearing the image of LVF leader Billy Wright were recently put up on lamp-posts on the main road into Dungannon, County Tyrone.

Wright was shot inside the H-Blocks by the INLA in December 1997. Later that day loyalists carried out a revenge attack at the Glengannon Hotel near Dungannon. Ruairi Cummings was 17 when Wright’s gang seriously injured his father Christy and killed another man, Seamus Dillon, outside the venue. He was standing just feet away when the shooting took place. He said the flags should be taken down.

“These flags and emblems have been put up in an area where they were will cause more hurt, offence and insult to all the families, ” he said. “How are we meant to move on as a society together whenever these things are still happening?”

Independent councillor Barry Monteith said: “Images of mass murderers at the entrance to public facilities are an attempt to send a message to Irish people that they are not welcome in their own land.

“Use of flags like this are akin to the Ku Klux Klan using the confederate flags to intimidate African Americans in the US.”

THREAT

Meanwhile, a home in north Belfast was targeted in a sectarian attack. Graffiti stating KAT (Kill all Taigs) was painted on the front window of a house in the Kilcoole area. A car was also damaged.

Sinn Féin’s Gerry Kelly said it was “the latest in a string of incidents in the greater Ballysillan/Cavehill area”.

Mr Kelly said homes allocated to Catholic families had also been targeted in Tyndale area of north Belfast.

“This sectarian thuggery is despicable. It is an orchestrated attempt to intimidate Catholics and create community tensions,” he said.

“Public representatives have a duty to speak out unequivocally in opposition to this cowardly and bigoted campaign of sectarian harassment and intimidation. I am calling on public representatives for the area to speak with one voice against those determined to drag us down the cul de sac of hatred and fear.

“The people behind this campaign of intimidation must be faced down and I call on anyone with any information on those responsible to bring it forward to the police.”

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