The following list of sectarian and other hate-driven incidents and attacks is from 1 through 31 May 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.


1 May, Thursday. Members of Ballymena's Moslem and Black communities were sent white supremacist hate mail. The development follows UDA organised tyre burnings outside the homes of members of the town's Portuguese community and more recent attacks on members of the Filipino and Romanian communities. The attacks happened in spite of claims in a Sunday newspaper by the PUP's Billy McCaughey that his party had successfully stopped all race hate attacks in the town. The former RUC officer and convicted UVF murderer said he abhorred the links being made between loyalism and white supremacism. Standing under a National Front slogan which read "Proud to be British and White" McCaughey told the Observer's Henry McDonald "I'm proud to be British too... but you don't have to be white to be British. Even in my most sectarian days I was never a racist." (BT, Obs, PFC, CW)

In the Court of Appeal in Belfast, the Lord Chief Justice, Sir Robert Carswell, overturned a finding by the High Court that the Department of Regional Development had acted unlawfully by not pursuing a Glengormley Orange Lodge for erecting an Orange Arch without first seeking planning permission. (IN)

2 May, Friday. A 16-year-old youth was charged with attempting to murder two PSNI officers in an incident on the Limestone Road in north Belfast in which a shotgun was fired at police. The shooting occurred during sectarian trouble in the area. (UTV)

In a joint declaration the British and Irish governments pledged new laws to tackle sectarianism. It is thought that these laws will include legislation for enhanced penalties for crimes aggravated by sectarianism or racism. (UTV, PA)

In Antrim, loyalists attacked the family home of Catholic teenager Ciaran Cummings, who was murdered by loyalists in 2001. The gang smashed the family car, the kitchen window and attempted to break down the door of the Cummings' home in the loyalist Greystone estate. The attack happened just weeks before the anniversary of Ciaran's murder. No one has ever been charged in connection with Ciaran's murder. (IN)

3 May, Saturday. The UDA in north Belfast said they dumped a "cache" of pipe bombs for the PSNI to find to "diffuse tensions" in advance of the marching season. The PSNI said they had recovered two pipe bombs and a number of components. Sinn Fein dismissed the move as a "PR stunt." (UTV, BT, IN)

DUP Councillor Nelson McCausland blamed nationalist youths for a stone attack on a bus carrying football supporters in north Belfast. (IN)

4 May, Sunday. The News of the World newspaper carried an article claiming that the office of the Police Ombudsman had been investigating the case of a senior loyalist who had carried out 13 murders while working as an informer for Special Branch. A number of the murders took place during the peace process. But the newspaper warned that the full story might never be disclosed because of budgetary restraints on the Office of the Police Ombudsman. The senior loyalist, a north Belfast UVF commander, was reported to have been recruited by Special Branch after a sectarian murder in 1993. One of his alleged victims was 22-year-old ex-RAF radio operator Raymond McCord, whose body was discovered in a north Belfast quarry in November 1997. It is alleged the RUC failed to investigate the murder in order to protect the informer. (NotW, UTV, PA)

6 May 2003, Tuesday. A former Catholic employee of George S Hall Ltd told a fair employment tribunal that his line manager had told him to fiddle the tax authorities or take a demotion. The employee was alleging that he had been treated less favourably than his Protestant colleagues. (UTV)

The Oversight Commissioner, appointed under the Patten recommendations to oversee changes to policing in the north, condemned the PSNI's lack of training to deal with sectarianism. (BT)

7 May, Wednesday. In east Belfast the loyalist Community Safety Group, an organisation of churchmen, politicians and loyalists, released a video composed of footage that the makers claimed refuted claims made by Short Strand residents that they had not been the main instigators of sectarian violence in the area. (UTV)

8 May, Thursday. A 13-year-old boy appeared in a Belfast court facing nine charges arising out of sectarian clashes on the Limestone Road in north Belfast in January and March of this year. (UTV, IN)

According to the Irish News PSNI Chief Constable Hugh Orde confirmed that files on two PSNI officers suspected of collusion with loyalist paramilitaries had been sent to the DPP. He also confirmed that the two officers had not been suspended. (IN)

A 24-year-old east Belfast man was jailed for two years for rioting and throwing a petrol bomb in an incident during which loyalists petrol bombed pensioners houses in the Short Strand. (UTV, IN)

In Glasgow, former northern Irish soccer player Neil Lennon, a Catholic, was subjected to sectarian taunts and an assault by a gang of youths. Lennon quit international soccer in 2002 after receiving death threats from loyalist paramilitaries. (UTV, BT)

9 May, Friday. Loyalists are thought to have been behind a petrol bomb attack on commercial premises in north Belfast where two men were working. No one was injured. (IN)

In east Belfast the UVF was blamed for the hijacking of a crane to demolish a CCTV camera on the interface beside St Matthews' chapel, close to the Short Strand. It was the second time the camera was destroyed in six weeks. (IN)

11 May, Sunday. The Real IRA claimed responsibility for the parcel bomb sent to Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble that partially exploded when senior aide James King opened it. No one was injured in the explosion. (UTV, PSNI, IN)

12 May, Monday. In Dublin, the General Synod of the Church of Ireland (Anglican/Episcopalian) cited sectarianism as one of the most pressing contemporary issues. (BT)

13 May, Tuesday. The family of John Murray, killed by Michael Stone, slammed the Sunday Life newspaper for publishing extracts from Stone's book, saying they were "glorifying a killer." It was later reported that the families of some of his victims were considering suing Stone for the profits from his book, as well as the PSNI and British army following Stone's claims that he was helped by the security forces in many of his murders. The mother of Thomas McErlean, murdered by Stone in 1988, later condemned RTE for inviting Stone to appear on their flagship Late Late Show. (IN, AN, UTV)

14 May, Wednesday. Following the row over the name of Derry City, Unionist sources again cited the possibility of having a breakaway Waterside council should the official name change from Londonderry to Derry. Recent statistics show that the Waterside area of Derry, once predominantly Protestant, is now almost 50% Catholic. (BT)

15 May, Thursday. Arsonists set fire to the Church of Our Lady of the Assumption, in Newcastle, Co. Down. No one was injured and damage was not extensive. Both nationalist and unionist politicans condemned the attack. (UTV)

In Portadown, a young Catholic mother and her infant son fled their home in the mixed religion Tandragee Road area after receiving information from the PSNI that loyalists were going to burn them out. (IN)

16 May, Friday. Relatives of the 33 civilians killed in Dublin and Monaghan on 17 May 1974 in loyalist bomb attacks called on the British government to come clean about its role in the atrocities. The role of British intelligence is expected to form part of Judge Henry Barron's report into the bombings (and others in Dundalk and Castlblayney), due to be published this September. (IN, UTV, PFC)

Loyalists were blamed for an attack in Newtownabbey, during which three men armed with baseball bats jumped from a car and attacked a 20-year-old Catholic man. Their victim suffered a broken leg and bruising in the attack. (IN, PSNI)

19 May, Monday. The Red Hand Defenders, a cover name used by the UDA and the LVF, left a device outside the offices of Republican Sinn Fein in West Belfast. The British Army defused the device. (UTV, PSNI)

In Belfast city centre, a Chinese man was attacked and stabbed by two men. The PSNI stated that the attack was not racist. (PSNI, BT)

Two men appeared in court on charges of extorting £10,000 from a Chinese businessman in Belfast. The men were charged by PSNI officers investigating loyalist paramilitary racketeering. (IN)

20 May, Tuesday. Loyalists paint bombed the home of a Catholic couple and their 10-day-old baby in Drumahoe, on the outskirts of Derry city. (BT, PSNI)

In north Belfast members of Sinn Fein and the IRSP were advised by the PSNI to step up their personal security after being warned that the UDA was targeting them. The threats follow a claim from the UDA that they would murder 10 Catholics if local UDA boss Andre Shoukri was targeted. (NBN)

The DUP's mayoral candidate for Belfast, Robin Newton, described the mainly Catholic west Belfast as a "Parasites' Paradise". (AN)

In Derry, resident magistrate Barney McElholm handed a 22-year-old Limavady man a 2-month sentence for physically assaulting a Catholic couple in a sectarian attack. He was also ordered to pay £1,000 in compensation to the injured parties.

21 May, Wednesday. Owners of bars and clubs in Derry's cityside were urged to do more to protect their customers after a young Protestant man was injured in a sectarian attack outside a city centre bar. (LS)

22 May, Thursday. Loyalists used ball bearings to smash windows in several different houses across west Belfast in a series of drive-by attacks. (IN)

DUP Councillor Elaine McMillan claimed that attacks on homes in Cambrai Street, off the Crumlin Road in north Belfast, were sectarian. (NBN)

25 May, Sunday. In Ballymena, two Catholic men suffered broken bones and bruising in the latest of a series of incidents involving a group of loyalists driving around in a van and assaulting members of the Catholic community. Six men were later arrested. (UTV, IN, CW, PSNI)

26 May, Monday. In north Belfast, seven Catholic building workers, who were refurbishing houses for the Housing Executive, were issued with death threats and ordered off the Glenbryn estate by known UDA figures who were armed and who later returned to demand protection money from the remaining workers. (NBN, CW)

Graffiti threatening Catholic workers appeared near the Boucher Road industrial estate in south Belfast. (AN)

27 May, Tuesday. A row erupted in Derry city council after DUP MP and Councillor Gregory Campbell referred to the Sinn Fein members as "thickos", "murderers" and "slow learners". Sinn Fein's Barney O'Hagan responded by threatening Councillor Campbell. Mr O'Hagan later apologised to council. (UTV, DN)

28 May, Wednesday. The British Ministry of Defence announced that the Royal Irish Regiment, notorious for its partisan approach, sectarianism and collusion with loyalist paramilitaries, would be scrapped, but not until all paramilitary activity had ceased. Unionists expressed outrage at any plans to interfere with the regiment. (UTV, BBC, BT, IN)

Two people were arrested by Sussex police and taken to a PSNI station for questioning by the Stevens team investigating the murder of Pat Finucane and other aspects of collusion between security forces and loyalist paramilitaries. The man, Ken Barrett, was later charged with the murder of Pat Finucane and two attempted murders, as well as membership of the UDA. Barrett, who had been secretly filmed by the BBC discussing the murder, denied the charge. See for transcript of Panorama programme featuring Barrett (UTV, BBC, BT, NBN, IN)

The Belfast Telegraph and the Andersonstown News reported an announcement from loyalist sources that paramilitary murals in the Shankill area of Belfast would be painted over. (BT, AN)

The SDLP urged the Chief Constable to deploy special police units in areas suffering from sectarian tension. They also presented him with a document cataloguing sectarian incidents in the Co Antrim area, which showed there had been seven sectarian killings in the Antrim borough alone since 1994, and seven in Newtownabbey between December 1997 and July 2002. (IN)

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams urged loyalist representatives to meet with him in a bid to end sectarian violence in interface areas. (PA, UTV)

29 May, Thursday. UTV broadcast a programme on the murder of Sinn Fein Councillor Eddie Fullerton, in which they said that the killers were loyalists working for branches of British intelligence. It was also claimed that local units of the UDA/UFF were not involved in the murder, but that it was ordered and sanctioned from Belfast. (UTV, DN)



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
PA:  Press Association
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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