Sectarian incidents and attacks

August 1-31st 2001


The following list of sectarian and other hate-driven incidents and attacks is from 1 through 31 August 2001. The criteria we use for inclusion is based on the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) criteria; if a person/organisation feels that the motivation for an attack against them was sectarian (or racist or homophobic), then it should be counted as such. 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. A full dossier of sectarian attacks from January 1999 until July 2001 is also available.

August 1, Wednesday. The RUC in Derry warned that bands would not be allowed to display UDA insignia at the Apprentice Boys’ 12 August march in the city. (DN)

The funeral took place in Glengormley of Gavin Brett, the Protestant teenager who was murdered on July 29 by the Red Hand Defenders after being mistaken for a Catholic. A meeting of Glengormley residents called for unity after the attack. A controversial Orange Arch erected across the main street in July was taken down. (IN, BBC, AN, NBN)

Loyalists from the White City estate were blamed for petrol bombing two Catholic homes in Newtownabbey. (IN)

Loyalists were blamed for an arson attack on the Holy Family Church in Ardoyne, North Belfast. (IN)

Security forces defused a pipe bomb that had been thrown at a house in Ballymena. (RUC)

In Portrush the RUC made two arrests after Army bomb experts made safe two pipe bombs thrown at a house. (RUC)

Derry DUP MLA, William Hay, branded a proposed Gay Pride festival as "morally, totally and absolutely wrong". Gay rights activists complained that the remarks amounted to homophobia. (DN)

Sinn Féin Education Minister Martin McGuinness offered to meet the UDA in an effort to stop ongoing attacks on Catholics and nationalists. (DN)

August 2, Thursday A suspected bomb, thought to have been the work of loyalists, was found on the Drumnakelly Road, outside Carrickmore, Co. Tyrone. (IN)

Belfast City councillors called for an end to sectarian violence in the City. (IN)

A group of 5 loyalist men seriously assaulted a nationalist man on the Newtownards Road, near the Short Strand in east Belfast. They ran off shouting "up the LVF!" (IN)

The RUC recovered 300 rounds of ammunition, five pipe bombs and a "coffee jar explosive device" during a search of the Ballysillan playing fields in North Belfast. The location and content of the find suggested it was a loyalist horde. (RUC)

August 3, Friday Local councillors called for the removal of the locally recruited and predominantly loyalist Royal Irish Regiment from the area known as "Little America" in north Belfast. The calls come after repeated reports of residents suffering sectarian abuse from RIR patrols. (CW, NBN)

Two loyalists appeared in court, charged with stabbing a Catholic man in the Markets area of Belfast. It is believed they had gone into the area looking for a random Catholic victim. They were released on bail. (IN, AN)

August 4, Saturday .The Irish News reported that a loyalist website was being used to incite and applaud attacks on Catholics in north Belfast. (IN)

The DUP’s Nelson McCausland said nationalists had themselves to blame for loyalist rioting and the pipe bombing of nationalist homes in North Belfast. (NBN)

The annual Gay Pride Parade in Belfast, in which hundreds had taken part, was deemed a success by organisers in spite of a picket by the Paisleyite Free Presbyterian Church, reports of homophobic jeers by onlookers, and a report of an attempted assault on some participants. (IN, CW)

British Army bomb experts examined two suspect devices left at the rear of houses in Leckagh Walk in Magherafelt. (RUC)

August 5, Sunday. Loyalists are thought to be behind two hoax devices found near Barrack Street in the nationalist Lower Falls area in Belfast. Residents called for security measures to be upgraded. (IN, AN, CW)

A gang of up to 50 loyalists from Glenbryn was said by nationalist residents to be behind the attack on an electricity sub-station in Ardoyne, which plunged 4000 houses into darkness for two hours. (IN)

Loyalists, one of them wielding a knife, used a scrambler motorcycle to chase and assault a 14-year-old Catholic boy on Derry’s Waterside. He was saved by a passing motorist. (IN, CW)

August 7, Tuesday Loyalists threw six petrol bombs over a west Belfast peace line into the nationalist Bombay Street. (IN)

Pipe bombs were found in Greencastle, north Belfast and in Newtownstewart, Co. Tyrone. (IN, RUC)

August 8, Wednesday Residents of the nationalist Bombay Street in west Belfast came under a "night-long barrage" of petrol bombs from the loyalist Cupar’s way. Residents say the attacks are happening nightly. (IN)

Loyalists are thought to have planted a pipe bomb outside a pub in Garvagh, near Coleraine. No one was injured in the explosion. Another device was found in Newtownabbey. (IN, RUC)

August 11, Saturday Loyalists stoned a coach taking young people home from a discotheque at Magherafelt GAA Club. (IN)

In Derry 15,000 Apprentice Boys and 160 loyalist bands held the annual Relief of Derry march unopposed and without serious incident. (IN)

Nationalists in Strabane stoned a bus carrying people home from the Apprentice Boys Relief of Derry March. Three people were treated in hospital. (IN)

August 12, Sunday Loyalists blocked a hunger strike memorial march in north Belfast in protest at restrictions being placed on an Apprentice Boys feeder march. (IN)

In north Belfast, loyalists were blamed for shooting a 15-year-old Catholic schoolboy with a pellet gun. The boy was hit in the back by the shot fired from a passing car on the Limestone road. (AN)

A Catholic home at Castlebane Road in Castlederg was attacked by loyalists, who hurled rocks and paint bombs at the house. A Catholic-owned bus carrying passengers to a bingo session was attacked on the same night. Sinn Fein representatives accused the RUC of indifference to the attacks. (DJ)

August 13, Monday In south Belfast a 12-year-old Catholic youth was beaten up by loyalists youths who had questioned him about his religion. (IN, RUC)

In north Belfast gangs of loyalist men attacked nationalist homes on Limestone Road with bolts, bottles and bricks. In the rioting that ensued loyalists threw a blast bomb into a crowd of nationalists, hospitalising several teenagers. (IN, RUC)

Strabane council chairman and Sinn Féin member Ivan Barr apologised to the people whose bus was attacked on the way back from the Apprentice Boys Relief of Derry march. (IN)

In Glengormley loyalists attacked Catholic homes with fireworks. A hoax pipe bomb was also thrown. (IN, RUC)

In Castlederg, Co Tyrone, loyalists attacked a Catholic home, smashing windows and throwing paintbombs into the house. A promised RUC investigation didn’t materialise. (IN)

August 14, Tuesday Loyalists pipe bombed the home of a Catholic man and his 12-year-old daughter. Both escaped the explosion uninjured. (RUC, CW, AN, IN)

August 15, Wednesday In Derry a gang of up to 100 nationalist youths, according to one source, some of whom were carrying sticks and hurleys chased a number of youths, from the mostly Protestant Fountain estate. On the same evening a petrol bomb was thrown on the lower deck of the Craigavon Bridge, a car was set on fire on the Foyle Road and sectarian clashes in Wapping Lane, on the edge of the Fountain. (DJ, LS)

A 16-year-old Catholic girl was attacked by five men at Clifton Street in north Belfast. The schoolgirl, who was treated in hospital for fractures to her face and ribs, said she had no doubt the attack was sectarian. (AN)

Two teenagers from the nationalist New Lodge had to take shelter in a chemist’s shop after they were attacked by a group of men wielding cudgels on the loyalist side of North Queen Street. The father of one of the girls was attacked as he tried to get them to safety. (AN)

Gunfire was heard coming from the loyalist Tiger’s Bay area in north Belfast. (AN)

Sinn Fein launched a dossier on loyalist attacks against nationalists, and criticised the media for portraying what they described as an ongoing pogrom against nationalists as "tit-for-tat" violence. They also said that the UDA were responsible for most of the attacks. (AN, IN)

A group calling itself the South Londonderry Protestant Volunteers called the Irish News and, using a recognised code word, claimed responsibility for a number of suspect devices left in Maghera, Magherafelt, and Moneymore, all in Co Derry. All the devices turned out to be hoaxes upon examination by Security Forces. Local sources blamed the UDA. (IN, CW)

August 16, Thursday A man’s body was found at the junction of the Shankill Road and Lanark Way in West Belfast. It was later revealed that the man, a Protestant, had been murdered. Two Catholic men, who were subsequently hospitalised in suspected IRA punishment attacks, have since been arrested and questioned by the RUC about the murder. It was later revealed that the man’s name was David McDowell, said locally to be a quiet, churchgoing man. He was moving house at the time of the attack. See below, August 29. (AN, RUC, IN, BBC)

In north Belfast nationalists are thought to be behind a brick and nail bomb attack on the home of a Protestant family of five. Both adults and the children, aged 8, 12 and 16, escaped uninjured. (IN)

In Derry, five young Protestant teenagers – two girls and three boys - from the Fountain Estate were severely assaulted by a gang of older nationalist youths as they left a city centre cinema. A taxi driver who had escorted them out of the shopping mall where they had taken refuge took the five home to safety. Fountain residents say that teenagers from the estate find it increasingly difficult to go about their daily business. One of the girls who was attacked has been involved in organising a cross-community festival for young people in the town. (IN, DJ, LS)

A Catholic teenager was attacked near the Fountain estate, in what his father claimed was a revenge attack after the above incident. (DJ)

Two prominent Republicans in Derry learned from the RUC that their names were on files belonging to people linked to loyalist groups. The threats emerged at the same time as a US-based loyalist internet site named prominent individuals such as film star Gabriel Byrne. The section on the site was called "Know the Provo", but it in fact named nationalists and Catholics. It is believed that the site has since been shut down but that the "Know the Provo" list is still available by post. (IN)

August 17, Friday Work began to extend the peaceline between loyalist and nationalist areas at Bombay Street in west Belfast. (AN)

Sinn Fein Councillors offered to meet DUP Councillors in an attempt to address the issue of ongoing sectarian violence in north Belfast. (AN)

A Community worker from north Belfast warned that nationalist communities in the area were effectively being blacklisted by statutory agencies and support groups because of ongoing sectarian violence in the area. Mickey Doyle said that much needed community projects were now in danger of closing. (AN, CW)

Ardoyne residents dismissed claims by a leading Apprentice Boy that they had refused to talk to the loyal order ahead of a parade the previous week, where members of the order had blockaded the Crumlin Road for 6 hours. (AN)

Security Minister Jane Kennedy announced that a peaceline would now be built at Alliance Avenue in north Belfast. The announcement was welcomed by nationalist residents of Alliance Avenue who say they have been coming under attack by loyalists for the past 10 years. Kennedy also said she would address calls for improved peacelines in a number of other areas. (AN)

August 18, Saturday Vandals set fire to a Methodist church in Castlederg using a stolen motorcycle. It is unclear whether the attack was sectarian. (RUC)

August 20, Monday Gunshots were fired into the home of a Cloughmills family. (RUC)

August 21, Tuesday A pipe bomb exploded outside the home of a Catholic woman in the Ballykeel Estate in Ballymena. (IN, BT, RUC)

The front window of a flat in the same area, which belongs to a Protestant man, was smashed by a pipe bomb just minutes after the above attack. (IN, BT, RUC)

Army technical officers defused a pipe bomb, which had been thrown at a house at Stoneyford, near Lisburn. The British army carried out a controlled explosion on another device, which was found outside a home in Ballymena. An unnamed republican group claimed responsibility for the second device. (BT, RUC)

A west Belfast Sinn Fein councillor was among a number of nationalists told by the RUC that their personal details had been discovered on a computer held by loyalists. (AN)

The UDA were blamed for leaving a pipe bomb at the home of a west Belfast community worker. The bomb was discovered before it could explode, and was defused by British army technical officers. A second device was discovered on the Hannahstown Hill Road at around the same time. (AN)

A group of up to 10 loyalists chased a Catholic teenager on the Stewartstown Road in Belfast. The 16-year-old boy managed to escape unhurt. (AN)

A Protestant man, who admitted taking part in the blockade of the Holy Cross school in June, blamed republicans for a paint bomb attack on his home. (IN)

August 22, Wednesday A pipe bomb was left outside the Cookstown constituency office of Sinn Fein MP Martin McGuinness. Forty buildings in the area, including thirty homes, were evacuated. A group calling itself the Loyalist Action Force claimed responsibility. (BT, IN, DJ, RUC)

Houses in the Ashley Avenue area of Armagh were evacuated after a suspicious object was found beneath a car belonging to an ex-republican prisoner in the early hours of the morning. (BT)

A handgun and a quantity of ammunition were found hidden behind a wall in north Belfast. (BT)

An Ardoyne man was stabbed and beaten by loyalists on the Deerpark Road in Belfast. The man received 28 stitches after the attack, during which a butcher’s knife, baseball bats and hammers were used, and has been told he may permanently lose the sight in one eye. (AN)

GAA clubs were warned to be vigilant following a warning from the ‘South Londonderry Protestant Volunteers’ that explosive devices had been left at GAA grounds between Coleraine and Cookstown. Specific areas named were Kilrea, Ardboe, Toomebridge, Portglenone and Magherafelt. Devices were found at Boleran GAA Club, Garvagh and Lavey GAA Club in Gulladuff. A device was also found at the Russell Gaelic Union grounds in Downpatrick (IN, RUC)

August 23, Thursday The Red Hand Defenders claimed to have left explosive devices outside Sinn Fein offices on the Andersonstown and Falls Roads in Belfast. (IN)

An SDLP delegation met with the Parades Commission to voice residents’ fears of trouble at a Royal Black Preceptory march planned for Ballycastle. (IN)

According to news reports, claims that the republican splinter group, the Catholic Reaction Force, was behind a recent spate of attacks in Ballymena and Cloughmills, were being treated with scepticism by the security forces. (IN)

It was reported that the SDLP and DUP would work together to stop sectarian attacks in the Waterside area in Derry. (DN)

It was reported that Council chiefs and the RUC were investigating a ‘loyalist cultural evening’ planned for Ballymena Town Hall. Concerns had been raised over links between the event organisers and the paramilitary group the ‘Orange Volunteers.’ The event was organised by the Loyalist Cultural Society, who registered the ‘loyalist voice’ website, which carries Orange Volunteers’ propaganda. (IN)

An Apprentice Boy was given a 3 month suspended jail sentence at Derry magistrate’s court for throwing a bottle at a nationalist crowd during last December’s Lundy’s Day Parade in Derry. William Ian Ferguson, from Rockview Street in Belfast, had been charged with disorderly behaviour. (DJ)

Paint bombers attacked the home of Mark Coulter, the spokesperson for the Concerned Residents of Upper Ardoyne group that had been involved in the blockade of the Holy Cross School in June. (IN)

The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission released a report claiming that discrimination against the gay, lesbian and bisexual communities in the north of Ireland is still widespread. (AN)

Loyalists claimed responsibility for two pipe bombs that exploded outside two homes, one Catholic and one Protestant, in north Belfast. Claiming the attacks, the Red hand Defenders said that their campaign would continue. (IN, RUC)

A 68-year-old Catholic man was injured in a loyalist paint bomb attack on his home in north Belfast. The home of a Catholic couple in their 70s was bombarded by up to 18 paint bombs at around the same time and in the same area. (IN)

August 24, Friday It was reported that Catholic construction workers from Derry and Strabane had to leave a building site in Ballymena following threats from loyalist paramilitaries. The area in which they were working is believed to be a UVF stronghold. (DJ)

A 13-year-old Protestant boy needed hospital treatment after he was assaulted by nationalist men in the Fountain Estate in Derry. (LS)

August 25, Saturday A Catholic father-of-three said he would be unable to return to work in a mixed area after he received a live bullet in the post at his place of work. A note signed by the Red Hand Defenders, which contained a death threat against the man, accompanied the bullet. (AN)

It was reported that nationalist homes at the North Queen Street/Brougham Street peaceline were to have security glass fitted after more than a year of repeated sectarian attacks. (AN)

It was reported that the RUC now had to pay £75,000 in compensation to a Catholic youth who was beaten in the back on an RUC landrover. Officers had also threatened to have the youth killed by loyalists. Two RUC officers have already been jailed over the incident. (AN, IN, CW)

10-15 loyalists chased a Catholic man after he got off a bus near the entrance to the Protestant Fountain Estate in Derry. The man escaped unhurt. (CW)

The RUC arrested a man in the Shankill Road on suspicion of possessing explosive devices. (RUC)

Security Forces made safe a pipe bomb outside a Catholic home in Shearwater way in Derry’s Waterside. (RUC)

August 26, Sunday It was reported that loyalist killer Michael Stone had fled his east Belfast home after being warned of revenge attacks by republicans. (IoS)

It was reported that a Catholic woman, forced out of her Dunmurry home in June, was still homeless because the RUC refused to classify the attack as sectarian. She was the only Catholic living in a staunchly loyalist area at the time of the attack. (AN)

Security Forces made safe a second pipe bomb outside another Catholic home in Shearwater way in Derry’s Waterside. (RUC)

The UDA were blamed for the two pipe bombs found in the Clooney area of Derry over the weekend (see above). (IN, LS)

Offices in the grounds of Corpus Christi Church, on the Westrock Road in Belfast, were damaged in an arson attack. (IN)

August 28, Tuesday The Red Hand Defenders claimed responsibility for leaving a primed car bomb in the centre of the Auld Lammas Fair in Ballycastle. The bomb was defused before it could go off. Thousands of people had to be evacuated in what is one of the busiest days of the year in the village. Later reports suggested UVF involvement in the attack. (IN, ST, RUC)

The SDLP said that it had been given assurances by the RUC that the UDA ceasefire would be reviewed "on a daily basis." (IN)

A Catholic family escaped injury in a pipe bomb attack on their home in Ballynahinch. The Red Hand Defenders claimed the attack, but the family blamed the UDA. (IN)

A Catholic man escaped injury when the occupants of a car tried to shoot him at Divis Drive in Belfast. The man was walking along Divis Drive when a car pulled up beside him and one of the occupants tried to fire at him from the car, but the gun jammed. The UDA were blamed for the attack. (AN)

August 29, Wednesday It was reported that the RUC were now treating the murder of Shankill Road man David McDowell (see above August 16) as sectarian. Two Catholic men, in hospital after allegedly being shot by republicans, had been arrested and were being questioned about the murder. (IN)

A woman from the loyalist Tiger’s Bay area of north Belfast was remanded in custody accused of possession of acid bombs. 31-year-old Nicola Wallace was also charged with having the bombs with intent to endanger life. During a search of her home near a regular sectarian flashpoint, 14 acid bombs, 350 empty bottles, and a drum full of acid were found. (IN, RUC)

The Red Hand Defenders – a cover name used by the UDA/UFF and the LVF - claimed to have left explosive devices at the Felons Club in Andersonstown, Goodfellas restaurant on the Monagh bypass, Caffrey’s Bar on Broadway and the Celtic Bar on the Falls Road. They also claimed responsibility for two pipe bombs that exploded at a Catholic family’s home in Ballynahinch and two devices left at a pub and a hotel in Ballycastle. (IN, RUC)

The RUC said there had been 129 pipe bombings since the beginning of the year. Of these, 53 had exploded and 89 were defused. (IN)

August 30, Thursday Two petrol bombs were thrown into the Protestant Fountain Estate in Derry. (IN)

The Red Hand Defenders claimed responsibility for a gun attack on a man in Coalisland, Co Tyrone. Despite their claim, local SDLP sources blamed the IRA for the attack. The victim was said to be "under close observation" in hospital. (IN)

August 31, Friday Nicola Wallace, the woman remanded in custody on charges of possession of acid bombs (see above, 29 August) was granted bail at Belfast High court. (IN)

Orangemen in Ballycastle claimed to have received death threats from a group calling itself the ‘Ballycastle Action Force.’ The alleged threats came after three separate loyalist attacks in the town during the preceding week. (IN)

Community leaders in north Belfast refused to comment on whether any deal had been reached to avoid protests outside the Holy Cross Primary school when term resumed at the beginning of September. (IN)

AN:   Andersonstown News
BT:   Belfast Telegraph
BBC:    BBC radio and television news, BBC online, Radio Foyle
CW:   Local community workers
DJ:   Derry Journal
DN:    Derry News
IN:   Irish News
IT:   Irish Times
LS:   Londonderry Sentinel
NBelfN:   North Belfast News
NL:   Newsletter
PFC:    Pat Finucane Centre
RM:   RM Distribution
RUC:   Royal Ulster Constabulary press office
SI:   Sunday Independent

Sectarian attacks section

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