Sectarian Attacks

September 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 attacks and related issues is from 01 through 30 September 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 September, Friday

A University of Ulster survey revealed that 66% of schoolchildren from ethnic minority backgrounds in the north of Ireland have suffered racist taunts from fellow pupils while 14% have suffered racially motivated physical assaults. The report found that schools regularly failed to respond adequately to racist incidents, particularly against Travellers, the most marginalised group. Racism in the workplace, although more subtle, was found to be rife. It also found that there was little in the way of legislative remedy for the high levels of institutionalised racism in the north of Ireland. (IN)

2 September, Saturday

The PUP organised a march on the Shankill Road to commemorate UVF killer Brian Robinson. An undercover British Army unit shot and killed Robinson as he returned from a sectarian murder in Ardoyne. (IN, BBC, G)

3 September, Sunday

In Larne five loyalists shouting sectarian taunts assaulted 27-year-old Catholic Donagh Steele. They hit him over the head with a bottle before kicking him in the head as he lay on the ground. RUC officers restrained his assailants and took Mr Steele to hospital. See also 14 September. (CW)

The Ulster Loyalist Information Services Network website,, published the names, and in some cases addresses, of 257 people it claimed were republicans. Among the names were a number of active members of the IRA who had been killed in recent years, as well as the names of senior members of the SDLP. The list was published under the heading ‘Know the Provo’. Nationalists and human rights campaigners internationally are investigating possible action over what is seen as being tantamount to death threats to nationalists. The list was removed shortly afterwards and replaced with an explanation that it had been withdrawn pending legal advice.

7 September, Thursday

Larne Catholic Bertie Shaw was arrested by the RUC for the seventh time in three years following clashes in the mixed Seacourt estate. He alleged that this was part of an ongoing campaign of harassment by the RUC and that he had been the victim of a number of sectarian attacks by loyalists.

At a meeting of Belfast City Council, Nationalist and Alliance party councillors voted to censure the city’s Deputy Lord Mayor, Frank Mc Coubrey of the UDP, the political wing of the UFF/UDA. The motion came after McCoubrey had appeared on a UFF/UDA platform adorned with posters bearing the slogan ‘Irish Out!’. A number of masked UFF/UDA members mounted the platform and fired over 100 rounds from assault rifles. The motion to censure Mc Coubrey was defeated when the UUP, DUP, UDP and PUP voted against it. (AN)

8 September, Friday

Six cases against the British government for failing to outlaw sectarian or racist harassment are being taken to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. Existing legislation protecting individuals from racist harassment covers only England and Wales. Scotland has its own legislation, leaving citizens in the north of Ireland unprotected. (IOS)

9 September, Saturday

Loyalists attacked two houses on the Lower Ormeau Road with petrol bombs and bricks before fleeing in their car in the direction of the nearby Annadale Embankment. No one was injured but local residents spokesperson John Gormley warned of further attacks. Earlier that week there had been another sectarian attack in Farnham St in the same area by assailants wielding hammers. (Ind. IN)

11 September, Monday

An integrated primary school in Derriaghy was set on fire.

10 September, Sunday

The Sunday Times reported that Metropolitan Police Commissioner John Stevens was preparing to order the arrest of more than 30 members of the British Army as a result of investigations into the undercover Force Research Unit (FRU). The investigations are in connection with a number of murders by loyalist paramilitaries, including that of Pat Finucane. (STi)

14 September, Thursday

Stephen Irwin, one of the UDA men convicted of the massacre of six Catholics and one Protestant at the Rising Sun bar in Greysteel on Halloween night in 1993, is reported to have moved to London to join Combat 18. Combat 18 is a British neo-Nazi group associated with racial violence across Europe. The number 18 in the name is a reference to the letters A and H, the initials for Adolf Hitler. It is understood that C-18 in London are engaged in a feud with their former allies, the London UDA. In the north of Ireland it has links with the UFF/UDA and the LVF. (IE)

Donagh Steele, the Larne man assaulted on 3 September, criticised the RUC for releasing without charge members of the loyalist gang that had attacked him (IN)

Nationalist councillors in Glengormley, Co Antrim, described as sectarian a leaflet put out by a previously unheard of group calling itself ‘The Glengormley and District Forum for Civil and Religious Liberty’. Councillors said the leaflet, which called on Protestants to take to the streets to defend themselves against ‘pan-nationalism’, was designed to inflame tensions in the run up to a march by a loyalist flute band through the area. (NBelfN)

21 September, Thursday

British Prime Minister Tony Blair agreed to meet relatives of murdered Portadown Catholic Robert Hamill. This followed a request from Irish Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, who backed the family’s call for a full independent judicial inquiry. Robert Hamill died as a result of injuries sustained in April 1997 when a gang of loyalists attacked him in Portadown town centre as he was on his way home from a dance. Armed RUC officers in a Land Rover parked nearby ignored pleas from one of Robert’s companions to intervene.(IN, BBC, PFC)

Daily life in Portadown was again disrupted as loyalists staged flying pickets and blocked roads in protest at the continuing ban on the Orange Order marching down the Garvaghy Road, the nationalist enclave in the town. Garvaghy Road Residents spokesperson, Breandán Mac Cionnaith, criticised the RUC for not intervening. (IN)

Two Catholic men working on a car in the Short Strand area of east Belfast were fired on by suspected loyalist gunmen. They escaped without injury. (NBelfN, RUC, RM)

23 September, Saturday

The executive body of the Ulster Unionist party rejected a plan that would include breaking the official links that exists between the party and the Orange Order. At present the Orange Order has 120 delegates nominated to the 860-strong Ulster Unionist council.

24 September, Sunday

UVF sources told the Observer that while it was still preoccupied with the on-going loyalist feud, which it described as ‘far from over’, it was prepared to start bombing targets in the Republic of Ireland should the executive fail and joint London-Dublin authority over northern Irish affairs be imposed. (Obs)

In Belfast a nine-year-old Catholic boy was shot in the back with a pellet gun fired by loyalists in a white Vauxhall car. The car sped back towards the loyalist Tiger’s Bay area of the city. (IN)

25 September, Sunday

An incendiary device was left on the windowsill of a house in Randalstown. It is believed the attack was sectarian. (RUC)

26 September, Monday

A Derry couple travelling by car in the early hours of the morning were stopped by drunken loyalists in Magheramason, Co Tyrone. The gang, who banged on the car windows and verbally abused them, threatened to torture them and also threatened the woman with sexual violence. The village of Magheramason is on the main arterial route from Derry to Dublin, about eight miles from Derry. (DJ)

27 September, Tuesday

Schoolchildren exchanged sectarian taunts and threw bottles and stones at each other at an open day organised by FOSEC at the University of Ulster’s Magee campus in Derry. The trouble allegedly started when a group of pupils wearing Rangers shirts underneath their school blazers began to taunt pupils from another school with sectarian chants, before attacking them with stones outside. Pupils from the other school responded and the situation deteriorated. A number of girls from Thornhill College, a Catholic grammar school, were reportedly injured. The organisers, and the principals of both schools, claimed media coverage in the event had been exaggerated and that there had been no serious injuries reported. One parent claimed that the incident raised questions about the supervision of pupils during such events, alleging that teachers stood by and made no attempt to intervene in the fracas.

28 September, Wednesday

One mourner at the funeral of UFF commander Stephen McKeag laid a wreath bearing the motif: ‘C-18’ meaning Combat 18, the British neo-Nazi group. (IN, BBC)

A loyalist faction calling itself the Orange Volunteers declared that it had ceased all military activity. In June it threatened to kill GAA officials in the run up to the Ulster Gaelic Football championships. (IN)

The Apprentice Boys of Derry announced plans to move its annual ‘shutting of the gates’ parade back to the first Saturday in December following negotiations with the Bogside Residents’ Group and in response to concerns raised by city centre traders.


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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