[Sinn Fein]

29th August 2002

Ferocious Attacks on the Short Strand

Sinn Fein Councillor Jonathan O Brien this morning spoke of one of the worst nights of violence and fear inflicted on the residents of the Short Strand in Belfast. He said he would be speaking to the Department of Foreign Affairs later in the day and asking them to raise the situation in the Short Strand as a matter of urgency with the British government.

Jonathan O Brien said: ``Last weekend we had the pleasure in Cork of hosting a number of residents, both children and adults, from the Short Strand area in Belfast. They only returned home on Monday night.

Last night and early this morning, those living in the Clandeboye area of the Short Strand suffered one of the most concerted onslaughts on their homes and lives from loyalist attackers and units of the RUC. Two of the families who stayed with us at the weekend were last night made homeless. One mother of four young children, Mrs Denise Maighan, has been taken away by ambulance after her home was attacked by acid bombs. Acid bombs also drove Betty Allan and her daughter Joanne from their homes.

The area was also under attack from blast bombs and rockets. At the same time there are 30 RUC armoured vehicles in the area. There is an RUC helicopter immediately overhead. Yet they are doing nothing to prevent the attacks on the area. Rather they are contributing to the atmosphere of siege and fear in the area. Plastic bullets have been fired at local residents and I believe one young man has been wounded after being shot in the lung. The RUC vandalised hoses to prevent local residents washing the acid of their houses.

Lest any accusation be made that the criticisms of the RUC are exaggerated, let me make it clear that I have in my possession video evidence which clearly and irrefutably shows the RUC standing by in previous attacks as masked men hurl devices at the residents of the area.

I have been in contact by phone all night with some of the people who visited Cork last night. As well as the overwhelming noise of the helicopter overhead, I have detected a great sense of fear and feeling of isolation. I will be contacting the Department of Foreign affairs later in the day requesting to raise the situation as a matter of urgency with the British government. This must be stopped.''

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