Sectarian Attacks

October 2000


In our document on Rosemary Nelson, we included an appendix that listed all known loyalist attacks from 1 January 1999 through 30 April 1999. Given the nature of the document the list focused on loyalist attacks. Since that time, we have continued to document attacks across the North, expanding our remit to include all incidents that might be considered sectarian and/or racist. (Sometimes, however, the motives are not always clear.)

The following list of sectarian/race incidents and related issues is from 01 through 31 October 2000. We rely on a number of sources for our information, but this is by no means comprehensive. If you find incidents that have been left off the list please contact us.

Because of the extent of the ongoing loyalist feud, the PFC has kept a log of incidents relating to it and compiled a digest for readers, which is available from the main sectarian attacks page.

1 October, Tuesday. Tommy Baxter, a 29-year-old Protestant, was seriously injured in a booby trap explosion as he and two Catholic companions made their way to a beach near Larne to collect fish bait. It is believed that the bomb was intended for one of his companions, John Shaw, who has been the target of a series of loyalist attacks, and whose uncle was killed by loyalists in 1993 while he was collecting fish bait close to the scene of this attack. According to Mr Shaw he is normally alone when he goes to collect bait at weekends, and his routine could be easily monitored.

3 October, Tuesday Philip Steele, 27, who fled his home in the Markets area of Belfast in July after the RUC informed him that his name was on a loyalist file, called on the RUC to name the organisation that held the file on him. Mr Steele, who has spina bifida and is registered disabled, strenuously denies any link with political groupings. To date the RUC have told him that the file, found after a raid on a house in Larne, contained personal details including the addresses and phone numbers of his home and place of work. It also contained details of a pub he frequents. This is the first time that the RUC have informed someone in such detail about the contents of a file held by loyalists, although Mr Steele insists he has the right to know exactly who it is that has compiled a file on him. (IN)

A mother and two young children escaped an attempt to burn their home in the Greystone estate in Antrim. The fire is being treated as suspicious by the RUC, although it is not known for certain whether or not the motive for the fire was sectarian. Greystone is a mixed religion estate. (IN, RUC)

In north Belfast a group from among 60 pupils from the Protestant Boys Model School (who were on foot because some pupils from the school had vandalised their own bus) attacked a bus carrying girls from the Catholic Our Lady of Mercy School, smashing windows with stones and bricks. Eight pupils were hospitalised for shock and minor injuries. The mother of one of the injured girls said that it was the third such attack in a week. One of the girls said that on a previous occasion the boys from the Model School had ripped the doors off the bus in an attempt to get at them. "I don’t think they are going to stop until one of us is dead," she added. Repeated calls for the boys to be kept off the streets by giving them another bus were ignored. (IN)

4 October, Wednesday. RUC officers from the Divisional Mobile Support Unit (DMSU) escorted pupils from The Boys Model School along the Ballysillan Road in north Belfast, keeping them apart from Catholic schools along the interface as pupils left to go home by bus or with their parents. The security presence followed complaints of RUC inaction (see above). (IN, RUC)

SDLP councillor Danny O’Connor accused DUP councillor Jack McKee of heightening tensions in the Seacourt Estate in Larne, Co Antrim, after McKee had accused republicans of trying to drive the Protestant community out of the estate. His comments followed an incident in which youths had pelted RUC and Fire Officers who had come to put out a fire in an abandoned car, and another in which a Protestant man accompanied by two Catholics was injured by a booby trap bomb aimed at one of his companions (see above). (IN)

A Ballymoney nurse was found guilty of professional misconduct at a disciplinary hearing in Portstewart. Anne Steele received a caution for telling a Protestant woman that her medical problems arose from the fact that she was engaged to a Catholic. (IN)

5 October, Thursday. The RUC found a cache of pipe bombs belonging to loyalists in the Donegall Road area of Belfast. (RUC)

Parents of Catholic schoolchildren at a mixed school in Crumlin, Co Antrim claimed that the school’s policy of flying the Union Flag every day is offensive. The parents have asked for either no flag to be flown, or for the Irish tricolour to be flown alongside the Union Flag. The school principle said that it was not in his power to change a directive which had come from the North Eastern Education and Library Board. (IN)

8 October, Monday. The Northern Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE) unveiled a £133 million plan to tackle overcrowding in Catholic homes and poor standards in Protestant homes in north Belfast. Amid fears expressed by Unionist politicians that the demographic balance will be tipped against them, the NIHE has recoiled from housing Catholics, who make up 74% of the waiting list, because to do so would mean putting them in houses seen as reserved for Protestants. This part of Belfast, the scene of many of the sectarian attacks reported here, has 6 ‘peace lines’ and 15 ‘interfaces’. (IN)

11 October, Wednesday. Loyalists attacked the home of an elderly Catholic couple off the Crumlin Road in Belfast with stones. This was the 18th time their home had been attacked in six months. RUC officers based nearby took 30 minutes to respond to calls made during the 20-minute barrage from loyalists on Twaddell Avenue, during which time several of their windows were smashed. Local sources blamed the UDA for the attack. (IN)

St Olcan's, a Catholic Primary School in Armoy, Co Antrim, was damaged in an arson attack alleged to have been carried out by loyalists. The school had to be closed for a week because of the damage. (IN, RM, RUC)

A Belfast man was fined £50 for making ‘obscene gestures’ and flying an Irish tricolour from the window of his third floor flat as an RAF Battle of Britain parade passed by. (IN)

13 October, Friday. A row erupted in the press as a result of jubilant football fans flying the Irish tricolour from a flagpole in Derry’s Northland Road fire station for two hours in August. The DUP’s Willie Hay complained to the Chief Fire Officer who denied the involvement of any of his staff. Sinn Féin’s Mary Nelis has suggested that no flags be flown. (DJ)

Loyalist supporters daubed paramilitary slogans and scattered broken bottles across the fields at the O’Donovan Rossa GAA club in Magherafelt, Co. Derry. One of the slogans painted was "Trick or Treat", a reference to the 1993 Halloween night massacre at the Rising Sun bar in Greysteel in which the UVF killed seven people. (IN)

The high court in London ordered British Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon to pay £100,000 costs after the court overturned an injunction he had taken out against the Irish edition of a British Sunday paper to prevent it from publishing allegations of state collusion in the 1987 murder of west Belfast pensioner Francisco Notarantonio by the UDA/UFF. The newspaper alleged that Notarantonio’s details were given to the UDA/UFF murder squad by a senior officer in the British Army’s Force Research Unit (FRU) because the UDA had been about to assassinate an Army Intelligence mole inside the IRA whom the FRU were protecting. Francisco Notarantonio, who had been an IRA man in the 1940’s, is widely accepted to have had no IRA connections at the time of his death. (IN)

The two Catholic men who escaped a murder attempt in east Belfast last month have condemned the RUC for not confirming that the attack was sectarian. The two brothers, who were working on a car at the time of the attack, have said they believe ballistic evidence held by the RUC would confirm that the attack was sectarian. (IN)

A Derry family, who had fled the city because of repeated attacks on their home, were the targets of a suspected sectarian petrol bomb attack at their new home in Portrush. A seven-month-old baby and his pregnant mother were in the house at the time. (IN)

14 October, Saturday. A Catholic man and his two teenage sons escaped uninjured after a booby trap bomb exploded in their vehicle in west Belfast. The night before the blast the man had left the car unattended in the loyalist Tynedale area of the city for an hour. The intended victim, who says he has no paramilitary or political connections, believes he was targeted because of his religion. The bomb was triggered when he found it obstructing the driver’s seat, which he was adjusting to give one of his sons a driving lesson. All three escaped from the car before the explosion. The vehicle was completely gutted. (IN, RUC, IE)

16 October, Monday. An armed robbery of an east Belfast Chinese couple and their 14-year-old son was blamed on Loyalists. However, Patrick Yu of the Northern Ireland Council for Ethnic Minorities blamed the attack on "gangsters" motivated by the racist myth that Chinese people keep a lot of money in their homes. Other sources said the fact that the attackers wore balaclavas and carried guns pointed to paramilitary connections. (IN, RUC)

An eight-month-old baby escaped unhurt after a sectarian attack on his mother’s car in Keady, Co Armagh. Nationalist youths stoned the car of the Protestant family as it arrived to pick up children from a bible class at an Orange Hall. One young boy suffered cuts to his legs and arms when the youths dropped a large stone onto the car from a height, smashing the windscreen. The passengers were treated for shock. (IN)

17 October, Tuesday. The family of Eddie Fullerton, the Donegal Sinn Féin Councillor murdered by the UVF in 1991, made renewed calls for a public enquiry into his death. The calls came after revelations that Garda officers involved in the investigation into his murder are at the centre of an internal investigation into corruption. (IN, DJ)

18 October, Wednesday. Gary Melvin Robb, 28, from Larne, who is facing charges of possessing explosives and documents ‘likely to be of use to terrorists’ (the documents include information on alleged republicans) is now thought to have been the man who shot UVF man Andrew Cairns dead on 11 July. Robb, who is said to be wanted by both the UDA and the UVF, has had to be kept on a separate wing from the others suspected of killing Cairns. (IN, RUC)

20 October, Friday. The RUC again tightened security along the Ballysillan Road in north Belfast amid fears of a repeat of incidents two weeks previously during which pupils from the Boys Model School attacked a busload of girls from Our Lady of Mercy. Calls for the boys to be taken home by bus are still being ignored (see above). (IN, RUC)

A gang of masked loyalists from the Seymore Hill estate attacked a bus carrying Catholic schoolboys from Rathmore Grammar School as they passed Queensway in Dunmurry, on the outskirts of Belfast. One pupil received ten stitches, another received an eye injury that may cause permanent damage. (RM, IN, RUC)

The Roger Casement GAA Club, in Portglenone, Co Antrim, was badly damaged in an arson attack. It was the second attack in the space of a week, and the fourth in three years. (RM, RUC)

21 October, Saturday. Loyalist fans invaded the pitch and attacked a Catholic player during an amateur league soccer game between teams from the Ardoyne and Shankill, at Woodvale in Belfast. The Ardoyne team’s fears for their players’ safety had previously been dismissed. According to officials from the Ardoyne team, subsequent appeals to the RUC to apprehend the culprit fell on deaf ears. (RM, IN)

23 October, Monday. Arsonists destroyed Express Shoe Repairs at Kingsway, one of the last Catholic-owned businesses in Dunmurry. In spite of RUC claims to the contrary, local sources believe the UDA were behind the attack.

24 October, Tuesday. Blank shots were fired at Catholic workmen from Derry by masked men, who then ordered them off the loyalist Rathcoole Estate in Belfast where they had been working. Leaders from across the political spectrum condemned the attack. (RM, IN, RUC)

A 30-year-old Catholic man in Coleraine suffered gunshot wounds to his hip and thigh in an attack blamed on loyalists. This is third time he has been targeted by loyalists. He was intimidated out of his home on a previous occasion, and was the target in a pipe bomb attack in September. (RM, IN, RUC)

25 October, Wednesday. A 26-year-old Catholic man and his pregnant wife, living in the Waterside in Derry, received a bullet in the post along with a note threatening to kill them. They had already been intimidated out of their home in Clooney by loyalists. (DJ)

In Drumaness, Co Down, a Catholic man received a shotgun cartridge, engraved with the letters UVF, through his door. (RM)

26 October, Friday. Three Belfast High Court Judges turned down an appeal against a decision by the Parades Commission to ban an Orange parade from marching through Dunloy. Spokesman for Dunloy LOL 469, former Irish Rugby International player and prominent member of the sectarian picket at Harryville, Davy Tweed, said that the Orangemen were "disappointed but not beaten". Dunloy is a village in county Antrim with a large Catholic majority and the scene of ongoing disputes over Orange marches. (IN)

28 October, Saturday. Loyalist vandals ransacked St Mary’s Catholic Oratory, Newbuildings, Co Derry. At a nearby Catholic School four windows were broken. Local Protestant ministers and community leaders condemned the attacks and expressed solidarity with the small Catholic congregation. At the same time up to £40,000 worth of damage was done to the stained glass windows at the Church of Our Lady’s Queen of Peace in Dunmurry, near Belfast. Just hours beforehand loyalists in the same area stoned a taxi driver. (DJ, IN, RM)

29 October, Sunday. A 21 year old Catholic woman was forced to flee her home on the Lisburn Road in Belfast after loyalists attacked it, smashing windows, attempting to break the door in and damaging a neighbour’s car. Two men in the house held the door shut, preventing the attackers from getting in. The attackers then vowed to return to the house to burn out the inhabitants. The family has been informed by the RUC of two death threats since they moved in to the house six months ago. (IN, RM)

An attack on a cross-community centre in Armoy, Co Antrim, was blamed on loyalists. The premises were gutted and computers and files destroyed. (RM)

Dr Alan McClure of the Derry Chamber of Commerce warned of the danger to the economy posed by the continuation of "political apartheid" in the region. (DJ)

30 October, Monday. Two suspicious devices left in a nationalist part of the village of Annalong, County Down, were said by residents to have been the latest in a series of sectarian incidents designed to intimidate nationalists. (IN)

31 October, Tuesday. Orangemen were asked to vote on whether to end the ban on talking to the Parades Commission and nationalist residents’ groups. Residents groups, however, voiced fears that the move was a cynical ploy to help the Order lodge appeals against Parades Commission rulings without engaging in meaningful dialogue with residents. At the same time an application to the Commission by the Ballynafeigh Lodge of the Apprentice Boys for a feeder parade down the Lower Ormeau road before taking part in a Remembrance Sunday commemoration was described by residents as being in ‘bad faith’. (DJ, IN)


AN: Andersonstown News.

BBC: BBC radio and television news, BBC online, Radio Foyle.

BTel: Belfast Telegraph.

CW: Local community workers.

DJ: Derry Journal.

G: Guardian.

IN: Irish News.

Ind: Independent.

IOS: Ireland on Sunday.

IT: Irish Times.

LS: Londonderry Sentinel.

NBelfN: North Belfast News.

PFC: Pat Finucane Centre.

RM: RM Distribution

RUC: RUC website.

SBP: Sunday Business Post.

STi: Sunday Times.

S Tr: Sunday Tribune.

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