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Dublin MEP visits victims of sectarian attacks in North Antrim and Short Strand

24 August, 2005

Sinn Féin National Chairperson Mary Lou McDonald MEP today visited communities in North Antrim who have been victims of a recent campaign of violence and intimidation from the unionist paramilitaries. Ms McDonald was joined by local Assembly member Philip McGuigan and party councillors for a series of meetings in Ahoghill, Ballymena and Rasharkin. Ms McDonald will this evening visit the Short Strand area of East Belfast and meet with local residents and Sinn Féin representative for the area Deborah Devenney.

Speaking from Ballymena this afternoon Ms McDonald said: "It is important for politicians in the 26 counties to show support and solidarity with nationalists in areas like North Antrim who are currently in the eye of a violent campaign of intimidation and terror being waged by unionist paramilitaries. It is very clear from my meetings today that there is an orchestrated effort being made to drive Catholics and nationalists out of certain areas in North Antrim. This is completely unacceptable.

"It is also clear that local nationalists feel that a climate has been created by the actions of local unionist politicians which has directly fed into the environment in which this campaign has flourished. For decades Catholics and nationalists in areas like North Antrim have been discriminated against at every level. It is now clear that nationalists simply won't stand for this any longer and the DUP in particular in this area need to wake up to that reality.

"The DUP sit on the various Forums and Commissions with the leaderships of the UDA and UVF. From the Third Force to Ulster Resistance the DUP have been directly linked to violent unionism. No nationalist believes that the DUP do not have influence with unionist paramilitaries and no nationalist believes that they cannot put pressure on to have this campaign ended if that is what they actually want.

"It would also serve those politicians in the 26 counties well if they travelled here to North Antrim or to the Short Strand to see exactly where the threat to the peace process comes from. It does not come from the Colombia Three returning home, or any republican activity as they would have people believe. It comes from the unionist paramilitaries and the failure of the unionist parties to tackle this issue head on." ENDS

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