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Gildernew - Link between Unionist words attacking GAA and All Ireland Final and sectarian attack in Coleraine

2 October, 2003

Fermanagh South Tyrone MP Michelle Gildernew has condemned the sectarian attack on a family living in Coleraine and drawn a link between the words of unionist politicians attacking the GAA and the All Ireland football final and sectarian attacks such as this.

Ms Gildernew said:

"Unionism must accept responsibility for the sectarian attacks coming from within their own community directed at nationalists. Particularly in light of comments from a number of unionists about the GAA and the All Ireland final and this latest attack on a Coleraine family for merely displaying football flag. Taken in conjunction with some of the inflammatory comments made by unionists around the sectarian intimidation of Catholics attending a Cemetery Sunday mass in Carnmoney it is clear that there is a link between the sectarian rhetoric of unionist politicians and the sectarian attacks of unionist paramilitaries.

"Now it appears that there will be legislation dealing with sectarianism, racism and homophobia there be specific measures to tackle incitement to sectarian, racist or homophobic hatred. The right to 'freedom from sectarian harassment' must be given legislative muscle and must include legislation specifically dealing with the problem of incitement to sectarian hatred.

"On a daily basis there is growing evidence of the pain and damage to the peace process resulting from the sectarian campaign of intimidation and attack of the unionist paramilitaries. While there is a focus, particularly of Unionist politicians, on alleged republican activity the reality is that overwhelmingly, violence today is coming form the unionist community and is directed at nationalists.

"The issue of equality and of freedom from sectarian harassment are key components of the Good Friday Agreement and the failure to implement commitments in these areas is acknowledged in the Joint Declaration from the two governments. There is a commitment to give legislative effect through the Bill of Rights, the Single Equality Bill and through legislation to tackle racism and sectarianism.

"A key component of any legislation on sectarianism, racism or homophobia must be to target incitement to hatred. There must also be similar moves to outlaw incitement to racist hatred. There must be legislative muscle to stamp out the poison of sectarianism. In particular such legislation must be effective in challenging the attitudes and responses of unionist politicians to the sectarianism emanating form their community." ENDS

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