Sectarian incidents and attacks

December 16 - 31 2001


The following list of sectarian and other hate-driven incidents and attacks is from 16 through 31 December 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 and other hate attacks from January 1999 until November 2001 is also available.

December 16, Sunday
It was reported that UDA quartermaster and Special Branch informer William Stobie, shot dead by the UDA on 12 December, had twice applied to the NIO to be included in the Key Persons Protection Scheme in the weeks before his death (see previous list of sectarian attacks). A headline in the newspaper read "The irony is that the murder [of William Stobie] bears a striking resemblance to that of Pat Finucane: the UDA did it, probably with the authorities knowledge." (ST)
December 17, Monday
Loyalists attempted to abduct a Catholic father-of-three from his car as he sat at traffic lights on the Crumlin Road in Belfast in the early hours of the morning. The victim was returning from a shop when three men wearing scarves across their faces tried to pull the doors of his car open and drag him out, but he was able to drive away from his attackers. Local politicians said it was the latest in a long line of incidents which they had no doubt were being orchestrated. (IN)
UN Special Rapporteur Dato Param Cumaraswamy claimed that William Stobie may have been murdered by the same people who killed Pat Finucane in 1989. He said "It now appears that those responsible for the murder of William Stobie may have connections with the Patrick Finucane murder and the motive for the present murder may be to prevent him from assisting any eventual independent inquiry." (See previous list for further information on the background and murder of William Stobie.) (IN)
It was reported that SDLP representatives had met with the Antrim/Derry Brigade of the UDA in an attempt to end loyalist attacks on, and threats against, Catholics in the North-West. It was the first ever meeting between the SDLP and the UDA. A statement from the UDA a number of weeks ago denying involvement in threats against Catholic construction workers in Derry is thought to have come about as a result of the meeting. (IN, DJ)
The family of Pat Finucane accused the Irish Times of spreading lies about him after an article in the paper claimed he "primarily represented members of the IRA" and was "chosen by the IRA leadership" to represent the hunger strikers. The paper also said that Pat Finucane had been questioned by the RUC about an IRA breakout from Crumlin Road jail. This was completely untrue. The Finucane family called the allegations a "gross and outrageous lie" and have threatened legal action against the Irish Times. (IN)
December 18, Tuesday
Loyalists attempted to murder an Ardoyne man in north Belfast. The man had just got out of his car at Brompton Park when a white Vauxhall Cavalier pulled up beside him and a man armed with a handgun jumped out. The Catholic man was able to run off before the gun was fired. The Red Hand Defenders claimed responsibility for the murder bid, the second loyalist attempt on the man's life. The intended victim was recently warned that his name was on a loyalist death list. Local sources said that the attempted murder was the work of the UDA. (NBN)
December 19, Wednesday
It was reported that a serious rift had emerged within the UDA following the murder of former UDA Quartermaster and Special Branch informer William Stobie. The split was said to be between the groups "B" and "C" companies, both of which are based in west Belfast. Two members of "B" company were said to have left their homes after threats from "C" company, led by Johnny Adair, which is suspected of being behind the murder of Stobie. It was also reported that graffiti had appeared in west Belfast accusing the commander of the UDA's "A" Company of being a police informer. It emerged that one of those who had disappeared was Ken Barrett, who had been questioned by the team investigating the murder of Pat Finucane, but never charged. Reports of the split came the day before a judge was due to decide on a Christmas bail application by Johnny Adair. (IT, IN)
The PFC released the following statement as news of the disappearance of Ken Barrett emerged:
Leading loyalist in Finucane case disappears.
A leading loyalist from Belfast who was questioned by the Stevens team investigating the murder of Pat Finucane has reportedly gone missing from his north Belfast home according to the BBC. Ken Barrett allegedly disappeared at the weekend but news only emerged today. There are also reports that he has not sought protection from the RUC/PSNI despite believing that his life is in danger. Barrett is thought to have intimate knowledge of the circumstances surrounding the murder of Pat Finucane which could profoundly compromise Special Branch.
Earlier this year a retired RUC CID detective, Jonty Brown, told the UTV Insight programme that a leading loyalist had described in intimate detail the shooting of Pat Finucane. An RUC Special Branch officer was present when these admissions were made but Special Branch withheld the audio-tape of the admissions from the Stevens team. A transcript of the UTV programme, Policing the Police, broadcast last May and containing the interview with Jonty Brown, is available here. Graffiti reading 'Ken Barrett loves Jonty Brown' has been painted on the wall of the former Crumlin Road jail in Belfast.
This latest news follows the recent murder of RUC Special Branch agent and former UDA member William Stobie who lived close to Barrett in the Forthriver area of north Belfast. If the reports prove accurate that Barrett has disappeared and is not under police protection this will feed speculation that some loyalists believe that Special Branch is working hand in hand with the present UDA leadership to assassinate former double agents who may have incriminating evidence regarding the murder of Pat Finucane and other murders involving collusion. Following the murder of Stobie it emerged that he had received a warning from the RUC/PSNI that his life was in danger from former associates. If Special Branch had insider information that Stobie's life was in danger were they not aware of more accurate details that could have saved his life? Writing in the Sunday Tribune at the weekend journalist Ed Moloney revealed that Stobie had recently applied twice to be put on the Key Persons Protection Scheme but the Northern Ireland Office had not bothered to even reply. See more on Stobie murder at UN Special Rapporteur expresses concern.
DUP MLA for Foyle, William Hay, repeated claims that he had met with the UDA to discuss recent threats against Catholic construction workers in Derry, despite claims from the UDA that he had not met with them. (IN)
It was reported that the children from Holy Cross primary school in north Belfast, who had endured a 12-week loyalist blockade of their school, had received over 10,000 Christmas cards and presents from well-wishers all over the world. The principal of the nearby Protestant primary school, Wheatfield, which has also suffered recently from sectarian attacks, extended best wishes from the staff and pupils of the school to the children of Holy Cross. (IN, NBN)
December 20, Thursday
It was reported that the Parades' Commission was to try to initiate a process in the new year aimed at resolving the issue of contentious parades next summer. (IN)
Derry SDLP Councillor Pat Ramsey said that he would be prepared to meet the UDA again to "bring to an end the terrible cycle of violence and fear being perpetrated against Catholics in the north west." His comments follow earlier reports of meetings between members of his party and the UDA in the north west. However, in a statement released on behalf of the "North Antrim Londonderry Brigade" of the UDA it was claimed that the UDA had only met with the SDLP to refute "incorrect" claims made by the DUP. (DN)
A mother-of-two from the predominantly Protestant Fountain Estate in Derry was sentenced to 40 hours community service after being convicted for her involvement in a sectarian stone-throwing incident in the city in March. (DN)
A Catholic man from Larne, Co Antrim, had charges relating to sectarian violence against him dismissed for the seventh time in the last five years. Robert Shaw's family have been the victim of numerous sectarian attacks in the last number of years, and his father was shot dead by loyalist paramilitaries in 1993. (See previous lists of sectarian attacks for details.) Mr Shaw claimed that he was being targeted because he "stands up" to loyalists, and now intends to call on the Police Ombudsman to review his case. (IN)
Loyalist sources on the Shankill Road warned of a "deep anger" after UDA leader Johnny Adair was refused Christmas parole by the Secretary of State. (IN)
It was reported that one of the guns used to kill Catholic man Francis Mulholland (see previous list of sectarian attacks) was also used in the murder of William Stobie. The UDA/UFF are thought to be responsible for both murders. (IN)
It was revealed in court that a leading mid-Ulster loyalist and former cohort of Billy Wright, Mark "Swinger" Fulton, had been tape-recorded by police as he talked about providing guns and a clean car for a murder attempt. The information emerged during a bail application by Fulton, which was rejected. He is facing a charge of conspiracy to murder. (IN)
Two people arrested in connection with the murder of Lurgan journalist Martin O'Hagan were released without charge. (IN)
December 21, Friday
It was reported that two Co Antrim men had appeared at Limavady Court charged in connection with the attempted sectarian murder of a Catholic workman in Clady earlier in the month. Brian Denver Gregg and Kenneth McLaughlin were charged with attempted murder and with possession of ammunition. Both were remanded in custody. (DJ)
It was reported that the UDA were to embark on a new "strategy" which may see the formation of a new political party in the new year. This follows the recent dissolution of the UDA's political wing, the UDP. (DJ)
UDA leader Johnny Adair was granted leave to seek a judicial review into the Secretary of State's decision to refuse him Christmas parole. (IN)
A suspicious package discovered on the Whiterock Road in west Belfast was declared a hoax. (IN)
December 22, Saturday
It was reported that victim's group FAIR (Families Acting for Innocent relatives) had been forced to remove a link from its website to a section on the British parliamentary website which named a south Armagh man, whose three brothers were killed by loyalists, as one of those involved in the killing of 10 Protestant workmen in south Armagh in 1976. The man was named in parliament by DUP leader Ian Paisley, who used the protection of parliamentary privilege to prevent any legal action being taken by the man. Under parliamentary privilege, no MP can be sued for libel or slander for anything said or recorded in parliament. By naming the man in parliament the DUP leader was clearly putting at risk the life of a totally innocent man.(IN)
It was reported that the UDA in north Belfast had warned its members to stay away from a threatened feud within the west Belfast UDA. Members of "A", "B" and "C" companies of the west Belfast UDA were said to be on the verge of a feud over who should control the area, which would give them a seat on the UDA's inner council and control of the organisation's lucrative drugs trade. (NBN)
Residents of north Belfast slammed delays in the promised extension of the peaceline between Glenbryn and Alliance Avenue, a regular sectarian flashpoint. The NIO had initially promised that the work would be completed by Christmas, but had since admitted that it would not. (NBN)
After more allegations that senior members of the UDA were security force informers, an editorial in the North Belfast News asked "just how many people were allowed to be killed by loyalists working for the Special Branch and British Military Intelligence?" The editorial continued: "If the Special Branch infiltration of the UDA was on the scale suggested by this week's events it would indicate that while loyalist gangs did pull the trigger on dozens of ordinary nationalists they were acting as little more than killers by proxy for the British security establishment." (NBN)
The Catholic enclave of Ligoniel in north Belfast was reported to be on high alert after a Catholic man was attacked by loyalists (see above, 17 December) less than a week after loyalists tried to abduct two Catholic brothers in the area. The incidents follow the publication of a dossier detailing the high number of sectarian attacks on the area over the past few months. (NBN)
Schools centred around the Holy Cross primary school welcomed the allocation of £1.5 million to help schools affected by the 12-week loyalist blockade. The money was divided between schools affected on both sides of the religious divide. (NBN)
There was sectarian rioting in the Limestone Road area of north Belfast.
(IN, CW)
December 23, Sunday
There was extensive rioting in the Limestone Road area of north Belfast for the third day running after up to 60 loyalists from the Tigers Bay area attacked Catholic homes in Clanchattan Street and Newington Street. (IN, CW)
December 24, Monday
The High Court in Belfast refused Christmas parole to jailed UDA/UFF leader Johnny Adair. (IN)
December 25, Tuesday
In north Belfast, loyalists threw two blast bombs at children on Newington Street and fired a shot at teenagers in the Limestone Road area before the gun jammed and the attacker escaped into Tiger's Bay, according to residents. There was considerable rioting during the night. Calls made by residents to the RUC/PSNI emergency number were re-routed to call centres in Britain where the operators didn't know how to respond to the calls. Local representatives complained that the RUC/PSNI was inattentive to nationalists vulnerable to sectarian attack. (IN)
December 26, Wednesday
Loyalist gunmen fired six shots into the living room of a house in Parkend Street, north Belfast. The young mother who lives in the house has been a constant target for loyalists since she moved into the house with her family in March. The family live in the house closest to the Limestone Road interface. The mother-of-two told the Irish News that on Christmas night she had been told by rioting loyalists shouting her name that she would be shot dead. Minutes before the shooting someone had called at the back door in an attempt to lure her out of the house. Local representatives condemned the UDA for attempting to intimidate Catholics out of the area. (IN)
December 27, Thursday
In an attempt to distance itself from the "gangsterism and drug dealing within loyalism" associated with the UDA/UFF and LVF, the Orange Volunteers announced that it would be ceasing "military operations" after December 31. The Orange Volunteers are believed to have had involvement in the random sectarian murder of Ciaran Heffron in Crumlin in April 1998 after a loyalist rally nearby. In their December 27 statement, the group deplored those who committed crimes against their own communities. It is understood the group came to the decision to go on ceasefire after a plea by a senior clergyman. The Orange Volunteers, formed in 1998, combine religious fundamentalism of the kind associated with jailed Pastor Clifford Peebles and extreme unionism. Peebles was arrested in 2000 for the possession of a hand grenade found in the boot of his car. The arrest came after an RUC raid on an Orange Hall in Stoneyford, Co Antrim, in which the personal details of alleged Republicans were found. The Orange Volunteers are understood to have recruited disaffected members of the UDA/UFF and the LVF at a time when those two organisations were on cease-fire. The group also claims to have recruited  from within the ranks of the Orange Order. It is understood the group has no links to the 1970s group bearing the same name which was linked to William Craig's proto-fascistic Ulster Vanguard organisation. (Both David Burnside MP and David Trimble MP were members of Vanguard) The 'Loyalist Cultural Society' whose spokesman, Mark Harbinson, has called for mass mobilisations of loyalists, had a website dedicated to the Orange Volunteers. It was Mark Harbinson, a member of the Stoneyford Orange lodge (see above) who, at the Grand Protestant Rally in Ballymena in September called for B52s to bomb Dublin. The rally is the subject of an official complaint by the PFC because it believes a number of the speeches made were sectarian in nature and likely to incite hatred. Shortly after the rally, loyalists murdered Catholic journalist Martin O'Hagan. (See September 2001 attacks.) (IN)
The family of Alan Lundy, the Catholic man murdered by the UDA/UFF in May 1993 while painting a house in West Belfast, called for a full independent public inquiry into his assassination. The Ardoyne born father-of-five was killed by "C-Company" of the UDA/UFF, the same unit which killed Pat Finucane in 1989.  At the time of the murder, collusion with the British army and RUC was widely suspected. His son Daniel Lundy, now 21, told the  North Belfast News  "Given the number of informers within the UFF working for the RUC and British Army, it seems incredible that my father's murder could not have been prevented." The family added that the recent murder of Billy Stobie, the UDA quartermaster involved in Pat Finucane's killing, added urgency to the call for a full investigation. (NBN)
It was reported that an exhibition into how UFF leader Johnny Adair has supposedly been "demonised" in the media would be launched in the new year. (IN)
December 28, Friday
The Concerned Residents of Upper Ardoyne (CRUA) website came under criticism for having a picture of a masked loyalist gunman in its banner. CRUA is the name under which some residents of the mainly loyalist Glenbryn area blockaded the Holy Cross School on Ardoyne Avenue in north Belfast. (NBN, CW, PFC)
December 29, Saturday
Loyalists petrol bombed the flat of a Catholic man in Coleraine.
December 31, Monday
Loyalists attacked Catholic homes on the Whitewell road in north Belfast, including the home of a grandmother whose home has now been attacked more than twenty times since July 2001. Numerous other families have been forced out of the area in the same period, with three families fleeing over the Christmas period. Local sources blame the UDA for the attacks. Loyalist community worker Tommy Kirkham said the blame should be "laid firmly at the door of the Republican Movement". (NBN, CW)



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
ITN:   Independent Television News
LS:   Londonderry Sentinel
NBelfN:   North Belfast News
NL:   Newsletter
OB:   Observer
PFC:    Pat Finucane Centre
RM:   RM Distribution
RUC/PSNI:   Police Service of Northern Ireland (RUC) press office
SBP:   Sunday Business Post
SI:   Sunday Independent
UTV:   Ulster Television

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