The following list of sectarian and other hate-driven incidents and attacks is from 1 through 28 February 2003. 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.

 

February 1, Saturday. It was reported that a threat against murdered human rights solicitor Rosemary Nelson had been found in a diary written in jail by loyalist Billy Wright. The threat was first discovered around 15 months before she was killed. Former colleagues of the solicitor said they do not believe that she was informed of the diary's contents. (IN)

UDA brigadier John Gregg and one of his associates, Robert Carson, were shot dead in the Docks area of Belfast. The driver of their taxi was seriously injured. Members of Johnny Adair's "C" Company of the UDA were immediately believed to be behind the killing. (BBC, IN, BT, PSNI)

February 2, Sunday. It was reported that former PSNI officer and current head of the Assets Recovery Agency (ARA), Alan McQuillan, regarded the UDA as "a confederation of six major criminal gangs." (ST)

February 3, Monday. It emerged that a civil servant working in Dublin Castle had lodged a complaint with the Irish government claiming that the twice daily ringing of church bells for The Angelus amounted to religious discrimination. He claimed it was an "inappropriate and disingenuous" use of state property. (IN)

February 4, Tuesday. PSNI Chief Constable Hugh Orde revealed that a third of the PSNI's Belfast-based detectives were working on the ongoing loyalist feud. Sinn Fein's Gerry Kelly said, "There is a very real danger that as the violence escalates loyalists will lash out in all directions and innocent people are killed. Unfortunately for Catholics, there is a tendency when loyalist feuds like this end they are immediately targeted." (IN)

UDA sources in Derry reacted to the weekend killing of UDA leader John Gregg by labelling his killers as "drug pushing scum." (DJ)

Three men were due to appear in Laganside Magistrates' Court in Lisburn following an arms find in north Belfast on Sunday 2 February. (IN)

It was reported that SDLP Mayor of Derry, Kathleen McCloskey, was to launch the "Give Sectarianism the Red Card" campaign in local schools. She said, "If we are serious about tackling sectarianism in the long term, then we must work in particular with our young people to promote greater understanding and tolerance of each other's different traditions." (DJ)

February 5, Wednesday. Belfast Lord Mayor, Sinn Fein's Alex Maskey, was told by the PSNI that his personal details had been found in the possession of loyalists. Maskey claimed that upwards of 40 other nationalists had also been given similar warnings in recent days. Sinn Fein councillor Martin Meehan said he had received three warnings in the space of a week that he was being targeted by the Red Hand Defenders, a cover name for the UDA. (IN, AN, NBN)

Around 100 people gathered outside Sean Graham's betting shop on the Ormeau Road in Belfast to mark the 11th anniversary of the UFF attack on the shop, when five people, including a 15-year-old boy, were shot dead. (SBN)

Members of "C" company of the UDA were forced to flee their base in the Lower Shankill after members of other sections of the UDA attacked them. The attack was a response to Saturday's killing of UDA brigadier John Gregg. The "C" Company fugitives, who included former UDP and UPRG spokesman John White and Johnny Adair's wife Gina, fled to Scotland. (BBC, NL, IN, UTV, PSNI)

February 7, Friday. A man from Raphoe, Co Donegal, was ordered to pay 1,000 euro in compensation to a man he injured when he threw a bottle at a band during an Orange Order parade in the town in July 2001. (DJ)

It was reported that the DUP in Derry planned to organise a city-wide petition against the proposal to change the official name of the city from Londonderry to Derry. DUP MP Gregory Campbell lodged an early day motion in the House of Commons opposing the name change. (DJ, LS)

February 8, Saturday. Around 15 armed and masked loyalists entered Newington Street in north Belfast and hurled pipe and petrol bombs at Catholic homes. A pregnant mother-of-three received stitches to a head wound after being injured by a pipe bomb. Nationalist residents reported that up to three pipe bombs were thrown during the attack, and a number of shots were fired from the loyalist Tigers Bay area. One resident said, "Everyone knew that once they sorted out their feud they would turn their attentions back on Catholics," a claim echoed by Sinn Fein and SDLP representatives. (AN, IN, NBN)

A judge ruled that former RUC Chief Constable Ronnie Flanagan must attend court to explain the RUC's security operation during the loyalist blockade of Holy Cross primary school in 2001. The ruling followed legal action by a parent of one of the children who argued that the operation was in breach of laws designed to put the safety of the children first. Flanagan was reported to have told members of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission that "security" was the chief driving force behind his operation, and not the children's safety. (AN)

It was reported that judgement had been reserved in an appeal by the Department of Regional Development, who were challenging an earlier judicial decision that they had allowed the unlawful building of an orange arch in Glengormley. The original case had been brought by a disabled resident of the town north of Belfast. (AN)

February 9, Sunday. The UDA was accused of being responsible for the series of pipe bomb attacks at a north Belfast interface over the weekend. One device was defused by the security forces in Newington Street. See above. (IN, PSNI)

It was reported that Johnny Adair plans to "retire from loyalism" when he is released from prison. The report follows the feud between Adair's "C" company and the rest of the UDA, and the expulsion of "C" company from the Shankill Road following the killing of John Gregg. The report claimed that Adair, a former member of the National Front, is currently in the specialist unit in Maghaberry prison, which he shares with illegal immigrants and asylum seekers. Other reports have claimed he is being held in the women's wing of the prison for his own safety. [A number of groups here have condemned the practice of holding asylum seekers and 'illegal' immigrants in prison.] (OB, PFC)

The UDA aligned Ulster Political Research Group (UPRG) spokesperson Sammy Duddy claimed that a haul of drugs found at Belfast Port belonged to Johnny Adair's "C" Company. [It is worth noting that, prior to the feud, the UDA as a whole denied any involvement in the drug trade, but during the feud each side accused the other of heavy involvement in drug running while denying their own involvement. See also below.] (AN, PFC)

February 10, Monday. During an employment tribunal where a Catholic former member of the RIR was claiming he had been the victim of sectarian abuse from other soldiers while serving with the regiment it was alleged that a soldier with known neo-nazi sympathies and a Combat 18 tattoo had been allowed to continue serving with the regiment. (IN)

A report entitled 'Parading Paramilitarism' was released by the New York-based Irish Parades Emergency Committee, which slammed the Orange Order and unionist politicians for parading alongside bands promoting loyalist paramilitary organisations. Photographs in the report include Orange and unionist leaders marching ahead of a band promoting the UVF with flags and emblems that are banned under Parades' Commission guidelines. One member of the group who released the report said, "Orange and unionist leaders who participate year after year in parades with pervasive paramilitary displays appear to be condoning these displays and the sectarian violence they represent. By forcing these contested marches through nationalist, mostly Catholic communities, the British army and PSNI enable the parading of loyalist paramilitarism through communities that experience loyalist violence throughout the year." (NBN)

February 11, Tuesday. Judgement was reserved in the case of former loyalist supergrass Clifford McKeown, on trial for the 1996 murder of Catholic taxi driver Michael McGoldrick. It was claimed in court that McKeown had murdered Mr McGoldrick as a birthday present for LVF leader Billy Wright after an earlier plan to kidnap three Catholic priests was aborted for fear of the scale of reprisals from republicans. (IN)

February 12, Wednesday. Two Protestant schoolgirls were injured when nationalists attacked their school bus as it travelled along the Limestone Road in north Belfast. According to witnesses around a dozen youths stepped on to the road and threw bricks at the bus as it was passing, breaking a number of windows. In Antrim, a Catholic pupil was injured when loyalists attacked the school bus he was travelling in. A 16-year-old was later charged in connection with the Limestone Road attack. (IN, NBN)

Buncrana Town Council unanimously backed a Sinn Fein motion calling for the killing of Buncrana Sinn Fein Councillor Eddie Fullerton, shot dead by the UFF in 1991, to be included in the terms of reference for the Morris Tribunal into claims of Garda corruption in Donegal. Donegal Sinn Fein called for support for the 'Open the Files' campaign "which will provide the Fullerton family with an opportunity to pressurise the British and Irish governments into addressing the 'inadequate response' to the murder of their loved one." (DJ)

It was reported that council chiefs in Glasgow were considering changing the route of an Orange Order parade in the city in a bid to ease sectarian tensions. This followed the publication of a report that found that the majority of Glaswegians wanted to end sectarian tension in the city, and that two thirds of those who took part in the survey believed there was a serious problem with sectarian violence in the city, although only one per cent had been a victim of a sectarian attack. More than half of those questioned wanted a complete ban on sectarian marches while two thirds wanted the chanting of sectarian songs outlawed. (IN)

The Independent Loyal Orange Order said that unionists in Derry should set up their own local authority if the city's name was officially changed from Londonderry to Derry. Similar proposals to establish a separate council for the Waterside were put forward in the 1970s but abandoned. (IN, LS)

February 13, Thursday. The UDA and UVF were reported to be involved in talks aimed at creating a "united front" for loyalism. An uneasy truce has existed between the two groups since the end of their feud in 2000. One UVF source said that success in the talks might depend on the UDA cutting back its involvement in drug dealing. According to the source, "The UDA and the UVF are having conversations and will be having closer links. But I'm not sure if UVF people on the ground are ready for this until the UDA proves its leadership are not running drugs." (IN)

Loyalist sources in Derry claimed that Torrens Knight, jailed for the Greysteel killings, was no longer a member of the UDA. The claim followed reports that he was set to replace Billy McFarland, nicknamed "the Mexican", as brigadier of the UDA's "North Antrim and Londonderry Brigade." The source claimed that Knight was now a born-again Christian who had not re-engaged in paramilitarism since his release from prison. (DN)

It was reported that a leading Belfast vet, a Catholic employed by the Department of Agriculture, had already received "substantial compensation" following an earlier claim for religious discrimination. The news emerged during a current discrimination case against the Department of Agriculture. (IN)

February 14, Friday. The father of Thomas McDonald, the Protestant teenager killed when a Catholic woman drove her car onto the pavement during sectarian trouble in north Belfast in September 2001, slammed the two-year jail sentence given to the woman convicted of his manslaughter. The family later announced that they hoped to appeal the "unjust" sentence. (IN, UTV)

It was reported that two Filipino nurses living in Ballymena had been attacked for a second time by neo-nazis. The PSNI said it was an orchestrated attack in which windows were smashed in both houses and the women were subjected to racial abuse. "British Nazi Party" slogans were stuck to their doors in each of the attacks. The two nurses had fled previous addresses in Ballymena after earlier racist attacks. A PSNI spokesperson said there had been a number of recent racist incidents in the town and said it was believed local teenagers who were getting "nazi material from across the water [i.e. England]" were responsible. (IN)

Lisburn Sinn Fein councillor Paul Butler received a Valentine's Card containing a live bullet and the message, "Your card is marked. See you soon. Dead!" Mr Butler claimed that threat must have been a result of collusion between the PSNI and loyalists, since he had only moved house and his new address would only have been known to the PSNI. (IN, AN)

February 15, Saturday. Four Catholic postmen from north Belfast received death threats from the Red Hand Defenders/UDA. The threats follow last year's murder of Catholic postman Danny McColgan, and a UDA gun attack on three uniformed postmen eight weeks ago. Nationalist politicians dismissed loyalist claims that the threats were bogus. The threats came as the PSNI were warning up to 300 people that the UDA had complied their personal details on a computer disk. (NBN, IN)

Local community workers condemned a planned tour of north Belfast by members of the far-right British-Ulster Alliance. A number of neo-nazi groups have visited the area in the last few years, as 'guests' of local loyalists. It was also reported that a 30-strong delegation of north Belfast community workers would be visiting Bradford, scene of very serious race rioting two years ago, to share their experiences of working with divided communities. (NBN, AN)

Ballymoney DUP councillor Mervyn Storey blamed republicans for a number of attacks in the area. In the first attack a window was smashed at the home of a DUP councillor in the Dunloy area in the early hours of Saturday morning. A short time later nine windows were broken at Ballyweaney Church in Ballymena. Soon after 15 windows were smashed at Ballynaloob Gospel Hall. (IN, NL)

It was reported that members of "C" company of the UDA, who had fled Belfast for Scotland, had all moved on. It was claimed that some had returned to Belfast to rejoin the UDA while the rest had travelled to England. (IN)

February 17, Monday. Sinn Fein MLA Gerry Kelly claimed that loyalist paramilitaries were targeting community workers who were working to resolve interface disputes in north Belfast. He made the claim after a number of community workers were informed by the PSNI that that their details had been found in the hands of loyalists. Kelly said, "These community workers have been to the forefront of all attempts to end the interface violence which has taken place in these areas over the past number of years. Unionist paramilitaries targeting these people is deeply worrying." (IN)

Sinn Fein Upper Falls councillor Michael Browne was informed that his details had been found on a computer disk that had been in the possession of the UDA. The disk was apparently recovered during a raid in Carrickfergus on 9 January. (IN)

A Catholic great-grandfather had to be treated in hospital after being attacked by loyalists as he walked home from Ardoyne, north Belfast. The attack only stopped when a friend of the man's daughter, who was passing in a taxi, got out of the taxi and the attackers fled. (NBN)

February 18, Tuesday. A 23-year-old man was due to appear in court on a charge relating to the sectarian murder of Catholic John Henry McCormick. Mr McCormick was shot dead by the UDA at his home in Coleraine on 23 June 2001. (IN)

A Catholic father said that his family would never be able to return to their Larne home, which was petrol bombed by loyalists in the early hours of the morning. The attack occurred at around 1.30am and the family escaped uninjured after being wakened by a smoke alarm. They had only moved to that home after being forced out of their previous one by loyalist attacks last year. (IN, PSNI)

A pipe bomb exploded at the rear of a house in the mainly-Catholic Leckagh Drive area of Magherafelt. The couple and their three young children who were in the house at the time escaped without injury. (PSNI)

White supremacist group the White Nationalist Party posted a leaflet on its website opposing the construction of a mosque near Portadown. The leaflet, with the heading "This is Ulster, Not Islamabad. No Mosques Here" claimed the mosque could become an asylum for Islamic terrorists. Unionist councillors in Craigavon have already opposed the construction of the mosque in the rural townland of Bleary. Sinn Fein councillors have supported the plans for the mosque, saying that local Muslims "have a right to a place of worship in the community." (IN)

The British army was accused of "refusing to accept that sectarian abuse and discrimination still occurs within its ranks." The accusation was made during a tribunal hearing brought by a Catholic former member of the RIR who claimed he was forced out of the regiment by a sustained campaign of sectarian intimidation and abuse. (IN)

February 20, Thursday. Loyalists bored a hole through a door of St Colman's Catholic church in Lambeg, between Belfast and Lisburn, before pouring flammable liquid through and setting it alight. Damage was caused to the rear of the building. Earlier that evening, members of the local Presbyterian church had attended a joint bible study group at the church and the Revd. David Knox visited St Colman's after the fire to express his sympathy and support. (IN, NBN, PSNI)

SDLP MLA Danny O'Connor defended his claim that 2000 Catholics had left three Co Antrim towns in the last five years because of sectarian intimidation after a spokesperson for Antrim Borough Council claimed his figures were "grossly misleading." O'Connor said that, "While I am not saying that every Catholic has been directly intimidated it is the fear factor of these attacks which has forced other Catholics to leave." O'Connor claimed that 300 Catholics had left Larne, 300 had left Carrickfergus, and 1400 had left Antrim since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998. (IN)

SDLP MLA Alban Maginness called for the Catholic woman convicted of the manslaughter of Thomas McDonald, to be allowed to serve her sentence in peace. His call came as North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds, DUP, said he was going to ask the Attorney General to increase her jail term. (IN)

Nationalist politicians called for action after figures released by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency showed that the unemployment rate for Catholics in the north was still nearly twice that of Protestants. The unemployment rate for Catholics is 8.3%, compared to 4.3% for Protestants. DUP MLA Gregory Campbell said that for the Catholic population to make up the share of the working population that they did showed that in recent years "jobs have been going inordinately to Catholics." (IN, DJ)

February 21, Friday. PSNI figures were released which showed that loyalist pipe bombers had struck, on average, every two days over the past three years. The figures revealed that almost 500 pipe bomb and attempted pipe bomb attacks had been carried out since 2000. It was estimated that the UDA were responsible for all but "a tiny number." In the year 2000, 21 pipe bombs exploded and 46 were defused; in 2001 126 exploded, with the same number defused; in 2002 94 exploded and 65 were defused. The figures followed a UDA gesture where 14 pipe bombs and four fireworks were left to be defused by the security forces, a move described by the SDLP as "nothing more than an elaborate publicity stunt." The UDA claimed the gesture was an attempt to "stabilise and normalise loyalist west Belfast" following the recent feud, but made no reference to ceasing attacks on Catholics. Ulster Unionist Councillor Chris McGimpsey described the move as a significant act of decommissioning. Both the UDA and the NIO denied that the move was seen as an act of decommissioning. (IN, UTV, PSNI)

It was confirmed that the Gardai had never submitted a file to the republic's Department of Public Prosecutions relating to the 1991 UFF murder of Buncrana Sinn Fein councillor Eddie Fullerton. (DJ)

February 22, Saturday. The PSNI were accused of trying to crush a new housing development in north Belfast at the behest of the DUP. It was reported that they had written to the security minister advising that a security wall would be needed around the development and that the site of the houses would create a new sectarian interface. Sinn Fein's Cathy Stanton accused the PSNI of trying to wreck the development by scaring off potential buyers and of trying to dictate where new nationalist houses were built. She said, "This is simply ridiculous. It feeds into the agenda of the DUP who are opposing the building of these houses." (NBN)

The UDA/UFF released a statement through the UPRG announcing a 12-month cessation of paramilitary activity. The group also stated it would re-enter talks with the decommissioning body but ruled out any imminent move on disarmament. The statement also apologised for its members' involvement in the drugs trade, and said that the organisation would no longer have a "public face." [For a supposedly illegal organisation, the identities of the entire leadership of the UDA have been public knowledge for many years.] The proposals were named 'The John Gregg Initiative' after the UDA leader killed on 1 February. Even the moderate Alliance Party expressed scepticism about the statement. (IN, UTV)

Muslims in Craigavon held a meeting to discuss the future of plans to build a mosque in the area, following intense unionist and loyalist opposition. Local Ulster Unionist councillor Fred Crowe was reported as having said, "Their [Muslims] greatest enemy is Jesus Christ, and I have seen papers coming from them that it is their intention to wipe out Christianity." Speaking before the meeting, Jamal Iweida of the Islamic Centre in Belfast said, "They had a rethink because of the remarks made and the community feels intimidated." (IN)

February 23, Sunday. Speaking after the UDA announced a 12-month cessation of paramilitary activity, the mother of murdered Catholic postman Danny McColgan called on the UDA to end their violence for good. She said, "I don't believe anything they [the UDA] say but I suppose it is better than nothing. I want them to call a permanent end to violence, to stop the killing and bombing. I don't want there to be another Daniel. I still want to know why, why my Daniel? He had so much to live for. I'm sure other families whose loved ones were killed by the UDA feel the same." (IN)

A pipe bomb and component parts for others were discovered during a PSNI search in Larne, Co Antrim. (PSNI)

February 24, Monday. A Crumlin SDLP councillor accused loyalists of trying to stir up sectarian tension in the village after a large amount of loyalist paramilitary graffiti appeared overnight. Orange Volunteers slogans were painted on numerous walls and signs. (AN)

The UDA said it would begin to remove paramilitary flags from loyalist areas across the north. It was reported that negotiations to also remove murals were at an "advanced stage." (IN, SBN)

February 25, Tuesday. A mother and daughter escaped injury when loyalists, believed to be from the LVF, shoved a pipe bomb threw the letter box at their home in Lurgan, Co Armagh. The device exploded, and a second device found in their garden was defused. The attackers daubed the words "taigs [Catholics] out" on their garage door in red paint before leaving the scene. The family's home is in a nationalist area of Lurgan that would be easily accessible from nearby loyalist areas via quiet country roads, and a "security source" said, "It's an LVF run town. This kind of attack is right up their street. They pick on an easy target." (IN, UTV, PSNI, PFC)

It was reported that the Assets Recovery Agency (ARA) would still be pursuing leading members of the UDA to recover the proceeds of the drugs trade and other crime despite the organisation's recent statement declaring a cessation. Loyalist sources described the ARA's moves against the UDA as "political" and designed to wreck the UDA's cessation. (IN, UTV)

February 26, Wednesday. Three alleged Co Derry loyalists were arrested during a series of raids in Coleraine. A PSNI spokesperson said they were being questioned about "serious crime" in the Coleraine area. (IN)

February 27, Thursday. Loyalist sources in Derry claimed that Billy McFarland, 'The Mexican', was still in charge of the UDA's North Antrim and Derry brigade, despite weekend newspaper reports that he, along with a number of other well-known UDA leaders, had been ditched after the organisations statement that they would no longer have a "public face." (DN)

February 28, Friday. Unionist and SDLP councillors welcomed government plans to increase sentences for anyone convicted of riot related offences. The proposed laws would increase maximum sentences for public order offences from six to twelve months, and remove the right to a jury trial for those charged with riotous behaviour. The plans were rejected by Sinn Fein, who said they would have little impact on the situation. Sinn Fein councillor Eoin O'Broin said, "In two years of UDA pipe bombing in north Belfast, not a single person was arrested or convicted following 300 pipe bomb attacks on nationalist homes. If the British government had been serious about tackling interface violence they would have focussed on that, which they have clearly failed to do." (IN)

Members of the British Ulster Alliance (see above 15 February) visiting north Belfast left the city apparently disappointed that they had not been able to take part in any sectarian rioting during their visit, which occurred just after the UDA had declared a new 12-month cessation. According to one source, "They weren't at all pleased. The BUA had organised the visit before John Gregg's death and they had expected a weekend of rioting along the interfaces. But after the feud the UDA realised they had to clean up their act so they called this 12-month ceasefire. And they definitely weren't going to let a bunch of wannabe paramilitaries from England mess that up… The BUA come over here talking the talk, but when it comes to walking the walk they're as lame as an old dog." (AN)

 

 

 

Sources:
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
LI:  London Independent
LS:  Londonderry Sentinel
NBN:  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
SBN:  South Belfast News
ST:  Sunday Tribune
UTV:  Ulster Television

 

 

 


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