Category: Archive

North Belfast flashpoints will get security cameras

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Anne Cadwallader

BELFAST — Forty-nine closed-circuit TV cameras are to be installed in parts of North Belfast where rioting and attacks across the peaceline have become almost nightly events.

The cameras, which will be monitored in local police stations, are intended to deter paramilitaries and rioters and, if not, then to provide evidence against those responsible for the violence.

Although some, mainly loyalist, politicians have been demanding the cameras, both the SDLP and Sinn Fein say they are no alternative to cross-community dialogue.

The chairman of the Holy Cross school board of governors in Ardoyne, Fr. Aidan Troy, has also said the cameras could prove to be a waste of money if local community leaders do not speak directly to each other to resolve differences.

Meanwhile, Sinn Fein representatives are expected to step up their personal security after receiving a fresh death threat from the Red Hand Defenders, a cover name for the UDA, this week.

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Sinn Fein councilors and assembly members have been told that they may be in danger after the loyalist group, which is supposed to have “disbanded,” claimed responsibility for a nail-bomb attack on the home of a prominent republican.

In a telephone call to a Belfast newsroom, the Red Hand Defenders admitted the attack on former Sinn Fein councilor Mick Conlon and said it would continue to target members of the party.

The RHD has claimed responsibility for numerous sectarian murders, including that of Lurgan lawyer Rosemary Nelson. The latest was the murder of taxi driver Barney McDonald in County Tyrone on April 17.

Shortly after the murder of Catholic mailman Daniel McColgan in January, the RHD “disbanded” amid an intense wave of public outrage. But that now appears to have been little more than a public relations exercise by the UDA, and the RHD is back in use.

Meanwhile, a Catholic woman and her teenage son escaped injury when a pipe bomb exploded on the front door of their home in County Down on Friday.

Also, republican dissidents are being linked to a bomb explosion outside Maghaberry Prison in County Antrim late on Sunday night. The attack happened last night after a jeep was abandoned by a number of men at the gates of the prison. A brief warning had been phoned in.

The attack was being linked to complaints by dissident republican prisoners at Maghaberry that they are being targeted inside the prison by loyalists. The prisoners say they have received death threats from a group describing itself as the Loyalist Prisoners Reaction Force and have demanded immediate segregation.

There are currently three sentenced prisoners from a number of dissident republican groups in Maghaberry and 13 prisoners on remand awaiting trial. Several have been injured in loyalist attacks inside the jail and are demanding segregation.

On Friday, a van containing a firebomb was stopped at a police checkpoint in West Belfast. Police believe it was intended for use at the UUP headquarters nearby.

That attack was blamed on the Continuity IRA, a breakaway group dating from 1986 when Sinn Fein dropped its abstention policy from Leinster House.

Sinn Fein described the attack as an “attack on the peace process” and said it was “totally opposed to the attacks.”

In addition, the failure of the PSNI to investigate threats against Rosemary Nelson before her murder by loyalists in a March 1999 car bombing is to be investigated in the High Court in Belfast.

The Committee on the Administration of Justice, of which Nelson was an executive member, was granted leave for a judicial review of decisions by the Police ombudsman, Nuala O’Loan, and former Chief Constable Sir Ronnie Flanagan.

The CAJ and its director, Martin O’Brien, are seeking an order quashing decisions by O’Loan and Flanagan to refuse to disclose relevant documents to them.

Nelson had received death threats from the RUC over her role as lawyer for the nationalist Garvaghy Road Residents Coalition and other high-profile cases. Republicans and her family suspect police collusion.

The former chief constable was said to have erred in law in deciding that “confidentiality” was sufficient reason for non-disclosure and that his provision of documents to the ombudsman absolved him of the responsibility to consider the applicants’ request for disclosure.

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