12 April 2006

Hunger strike tribute ‘destroyed by loyalists’

Daily Ireland

Poster depicting men who died is set ablaze near sectarian blackspot

by Connla Young
12/04/2006

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usLoyalists in County Antrim have been blamed for an arson attack on a poster commemorating republican hunger strikers.
The poster, which depicted a number of hunger strikers from the 1970s and 1980s, was erected close to Portglenone a number of weeks ago.
It was destroyed by fire on Monday night in an attack republicans believe was carried out by loyalists.
The incident took place several miles from Ahoghill where last summer a number of nationalist families were forced to flee their homes after they were targeted by loyalists.
Ballymena Sinn Fein councillor Monica Digney says the latest incident will increase tensions in the area.
“This was just one poster, which was in no way offensive or provocative.
“They [loyalists] have shown that they are completely intolerant of republicans and nationalists and their culture.
“There is no doubt that this will increase tensions. I do not want to see another summer of sectarian hatred around Ballymena, but by burning this poster they are making their intentions clear coming up to the marching season.
“This poster was to commemorate the sacrifice made by these men. It is part of a 32-county commemoration, to show that we will not forget these men. It is a part of our history whether they like or not.
“The hunger strike is taught in schools as part of history, and not just in Catholic schools. These people have shown complete intolerance.”
Mrs Digney also called for security at Ballymena Borough Council to be stepped lup after she was threatened by a member of the public at a recent council meeting.
Mrs Digney says she was singled out for personal abuse by the man while other councillors looked on.
“No one should be threatened because of either their political opinion or religious background. This was a frightening and disturbing incident.
“It is totally unacceptable that any elected representative should be threatened anywhere, let alone on the floor of the council chamber. What was more concerning was that a number of my council colleagues sat by and did nothing.
“I am also very concerned that my assailant was able to freely enter the council building and the council chamber without being challenged.
“I will be raising this matter with the council chief executive. Unionists on Ballymena Council through their behaviour continue to send out a message that republicans and nationalists should not be treated equally and with dignity and respect.”
No one from Ballymena Borough Council was available for comment.

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