Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Short Strand defiant in face of Sectarian Attacks

Sligo éirígí activist Gerry Casey has said the response of the RUC/PSNI to the ongoing loyalist attacks on the Short Strand area of Belfast is yet further evidence of a force not to be trusted by nationalists.

Casey was speaking following the second night of attacks by hundreds of loyalists on the homes of families in the small nationalist enclave of the Short Strand in East Belfast.

Casey said: “As loyalists continued to fire missiles at people's homes, the RUC/PSNI made no meaningful effort to stop them or protect residents. Many local people were injured, some seriously, while dozens of homes were damaged during the attacks.”

“Only for the bravery of the local residents who defied and fought off this UVF led attack on their area, there would have been even more widespread carnage and destruction.”

“We have all seen the speed and brutality with which the RUC/PSNI act against nationalists and republicans engaged in peaceful protests, the protests against sectarian marches through Ardoyne last summer being a prime example. Yet here we had masked and armed UVF thugs violently attacking a small isolated nationalist enclave causing injuries and destruction with the RUC/PSNI effectively standing by allowing them to do so. When they did intervene, they fired plastic bullets injuring young nationalists attempting to protect their area from further attack.”

"Also reprehensible has been comments from the RUC/PSNI in the media portraying this as 'clashes' between two rival sets of rioters.  Many media outlets have also swallowed this line and have reported it as such.  The reality is that once again the Short Strand is under siege by sectarian loyalist thugs who want to rid East Belfast of all nationalists.  These are unprovoked sectarian attacks on a small vulnerable community.  They should be described and reported as such and the people of the Short Strand should be commended for their determined resistance and assisted in any way possible."

éirígí national vice-chairperson Rab Jackson and the party’s Upper Falls representative Pádraic Mac Coitir visited the Short Strand on Tuesday to show solidarity with residents and to meet with local éirígí activists and community workers.

Pádraic MacCoitir & Rab Jackson
The two were shown some of the most badly damaged houses and talked to residents who said they had experienced the most terrifying night in a long time."

Jackson said: “Nationalists are sick, sore and tired of the fact that every time there are difficulties within unionism, this manifests itself in violent sectarian attacks. Ultimately, what we witnessed last night was the cranking up of a unionist mob – at the behest of the UVF – that simply doesn’t want a catholic about the place in east Belfast.”

“The attack on the Short Strand is also an indicator of the total failure of what is called the peace process and those who police it to protect nationalists in vulnerable areas.”

Jackson added: “The people of the Short Strand are to be commended for their bravery in confronting the UVF and eventually forcing them from the area.”

“The Short Strand community has a long and proud history of defending their area from British and unionist aggression, éirígí is confident that the current generation of residents will be no less determined.”

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