Hit and run escalates tensions

Allegations of a hit and run incident have lead to increased tensions in the Whitewell Road area with claims of threats being issued.If true, this is not the first example of such an incident in North Belfast, Thomas McDonald died in 2001 on the same road (the driver received a two-year sentence) as did William Morgan (scroll down) in 2002 at Tiger’s Bay (it was rumoured the alleged perpetrators of this were punished by republicans) while Stephen Sloane was left permanently brain damaged in November 2001 at Westland (the driver received a four year sentence).

The area also saw a series of attacks a few week ago. More here.

Meanwhile a pensioner couple whose home was petrol bombed in Lurgan believe it was sectarian.

  • Garibaldy

    Fair Deal,

    I was wondering if there is evidence that the Stephen Sloane case was part of a sectarian incident. The report you linked didn’t say so. Also, I think the way you have decribed the tragic death of Thomas Mc Donald suggests more premeditation than was actually the case.

    The Whitewell area has seen a lot of sectarian violence in recent years, including the sectarian murder of two Catholics from the area, one on the Whitewell Road itself and one in Rathcoole. Given the situation, I think all of us should be very careful in the langauge we use.

    The PSNI actually has a fairly good record of preventative policing in the area, and I hope they continue that tonight and over the next few days.

  • angus

    Why is McDonald commemorated as a loyalist paramilitary. uff 2nd batt.a-company, south east antrim brigade.

    http://www.whitewelldefendersfb.com/inmemory.html

  • Chris Donnelly

    I have problems with this thread for a number of reasons.

    Firstly, there is no consistent pattern linking the incidents cited above, other than that those highlighted were protestant victims of incidents involving cars. There is no proof that the culprits were catholics/ republicans, nor indeed that there is an orchestrated campaign of such incidents: yet that is implied in the post.

    The Thomas McDonald case was an incident of road rage, with the female driver reacting (completely wrongly) to the youth throwing a brick at her car. Loyalists then attempted to make it into a purely sectarian affair due to the family background of the young individual concerned, who was later claimed as a member of the UDA.

    The judge naturally accepted the exceptional circumstances involved when he handed down the sentence for the driver.

    The other two hit and run incidents can hardly be taken alongside that of the McDonald case to show a pattern of behaviour, given that those responsible (in at least the Sloane case) were joyriders/ death drivers, whose trail of carnage knows no sectarian boundaries.

    I can’t understand why you omitted the hit and run killing of Kevin and Dana Fitzpatrick (December 2000) on the Antrim Road, or indeed that of Stephen Montgomery in Ardoyne (February 2005.) You could also have included the hit and run killing of Con Butler on the Springfield Road in December 2000, an incident believed to have been sectarian as the car was found burnt out in a loyalist area afterwards.

  • Dec

    Nor indeed Emma Lynch (aged 8) and Christopher Shaw (aged 11), killed on the Springfield Road.

  • circles

    Fair_Deal: Is the idea that you want to give here really that all these hit and runs are sectarian? Without any real substantiation behind it?
    C’mon now FD! Thats not exactly reponsible blogging is it?

  • Big Hughie

    Well, as we all know Fair Deal always has lots to say about what is happening in n Belfast.

  • canwebanulstermanplease

    fair_deal aways comments on events from a loyalist/unionist point of view. he will always give a slant to a story that satisfies his own political affilations/bias/agenda/preconceptions (delete as appropiate).

    nothing wrong with that, per se but we would do well to keep it in mind when reading anything he writes.

    This in no way detracts from the serious of the alleged hit and run incident and subsequent intimidation of Old Throne Park residents by loyalists.

  • fair_deal

    CD

    “There is no proof that the culprits were catholics/ republicans,”

    Other than the two convictions of course.

  • Garibaldy

    Fair Deal,

    Chris may have collapsed Catholics and republicans in his post. Are you doing the same?
    You haven’t really addressed any of the other criticisms, that perhaps the way you have phrased your post was somewhat less than totally frank or responsible.

  • Dec

    There is no proof that the culprits were catholics/ republicans,”

    Other than the two convictions of course.

    And the Killer of Emma Lynch and Christopher Shaw was from the Highfield Estate.

    However only a total fucking moron would argue that such a tragedy was part of a wider sectarian campaign, wouldn’t they Fair_Deal…

  • Big Hughie

    canwebanulstermanplease

    The point is he doesn’t always comment, as we saw last week in particular.

  • fair_deal

    During a period of heightened sectarian tension, over the space of ten months (Sep 01-Jul 02) there were two people killed and one seriously injured (permamently) in hit and run incidents within an area approximately two mile square. In all three incidents the cars mounted the footpath to hit the victims. The victims were all from one side of the sectarian divide and the two convicted from the other. The car in the Tiger’s bay incident was abandoned in a republican area as those subjected to a punishment attack in relation to this incident were froma republican area to.

    These are a hell of lot of coincidences.

    Big Hughie are you Peking in disguise? If you are going to whinge at least try and have some basis in fact. I commented twice on ballysillan.

    http://www.sluggerotoole.com/index.php/weblog/comments/this_paramilitary_power_play/
    http://www.sluggerotoole.com/index.php/weblog/comments/was_the_ballysillan_meeting_legal/

    I also had this to say on the impact of paramilitarism in Loyalist areas

    “…the deadening, damaging and corrupting hand of loyalist paramilitarism on these areas.

  • DK

    Is this in essence cars being used as weapons in tit-for-tat killings now that guns are politically incorrect?

    These things can escalate quickly – Wasn’t that how holy cross started – a car attack on berks putting flags up?

    I also saw a headline in some paper that “Direct Action Against Drugs” are back. Seems that the lure of the balaclava is too much for some, no matter what incentives are put in place to do otherwise.

  • Garibaldy

    FD,

    Is it really only two miles from the White City to Tiger’s Bay? Thought it was further away.

    Anyway, again I think you’re conflating things that should not be comflated. The Mc Donald incident was a discrete set of circumstances. Unlike the other two incidents it did not involve joyriders. As for the other incidents, the Sloane repirt you linked to did not mention a sectarian link, but it did say that someone drunk and high on drugs mounted the footpath either having been chased by the police or while being chased by the police. The timing is unclear. The Morgan murder is clearly a separate case.

    I note that in your latest post you notice these incidents occurred in a period of heightened sectarian tension. Given that we are in such a period now, I’ll ask again. Do you feel your post was responsibly phrased? I have to say I don’t.

    Although it did mention the attack on Catholic homes, it didn’t mention other sectarian murders that took place within a two-mile square (to use your measurement) over the same five year period. Why was that? It looks a lot like taking things out of context in a tribal pointscoring exercise.

    These issues are too important for that.

  • Garibaldy

    DK,

    The posts give the impression that this is cars being used instead of guns. A closer examination of the details of each incident suggests not.

  • circles

    I would agree with Garibaldy – I find the “use” of these incidents in this context not only distasteful, but highly irresponsible.
    These hit and runs are truly terrible incidents, but it does not help to contrive to put them all in th bag box of sectartian activities.
    A while back F_D, you had a “how am I doing?” post on the go. I would have said quite well back then. I always find it rewarding to read stories from the unionist perpective, but there has been an obvious slide towards stretching stories to fit the particular agenda you would like them to fulfil which I find regrettable.

  • Chris Donnelly

    FD

    The McDonald case involved a woman reacting to someone throwing a brick at her car. Whether or not she was catholic is not really relevant to reasonable people.

    The joyrider convicted in the other case was just that, a joyrider. As I’ve illustrated, such people have shown reckless disregard for pedestrians regardless of the roads they are driving on.

    Your attempt to make a sectarian pattern from these incidents is quite pathetic, particularly given that you had to screen the available evidence to concoct the ‘pattern.’

    Garibaldy
    I only mentioned catholic and republican because the insinuation was that there has been a deliberate strategy to kill protestants in hit and run cases in north Belfast.

  • Garibaldy

    Chris,

    I think there’s no problem mentioning religion given that FD’s post suggests that there is a campaign to kill protestants with cars. The Morgan murder clearly was sectarian, and the Mc Donald incident began with sectarian stone throwing, so religion is important. It’s just I find that using Catholic/nationalist/republican interchangably to be a politically-inspired linguistic slight of hand. While it might have been very successful for those who do it in electoral terms, I oppose it, not least because it mirrors exactly the judge’s account of the thinking of one J Adair at his trial for directing terrorism. It also shows scant regard for what the political philosophy of republicanism is about. But those are arguments for another time.

    What I do find interesting here is that Fair Deal has posted a couple of times but ignored the substance of the complaints against him. Perhaps he’s very busy at work, though I can’t help thinking that he realises he’s on weak ground, and is trying to sneak off without having to admit he made a mistake in this post.

  • fair_deal

    I have outlined three incidents in a geographically restricted area and time frame with a significant number of common factors. Four years later when sectarian tensions rise such another incident reoccurs (the religion of the alleged perpetrator or victim is unknown although as it has heightened tensions it seems save to presume that they come from different communities).

    In North Belfast threats, fists, feet, sticks, baseball bats, hurley sticks, pool cues, stones, bricks, breeze blocks, petrol bombs, pipe bombs, knives and guns have all been used in an ongoing pattern of attacks across the sectarian divide. So why is it so impossible that cars could not be added to that list?

    CD

    “The joyrider convicted in the other case was just that, a joyrider. As I’ve illustrated, such people have shown reckless disregard for pedestrians regardless of the roads they are driving on.”

    By that logic if a loyalist paramilitary shoots a protestant and then shoots a catholic, sectarianism has nothing to do with the second incident. Shooting was the means in both. There was a common disregard for human life in both so their can be no difference in motivation?

  • Garibaldy

    FD,

    I think it’s good you’re raising the issue of sectarian violence in north Belfast. I just think that in this case it could have been done in a much more helpful and responsible way.

    Of course cars can be used as weapons – but there is no evidence that in all the cases you have linked there was a sectarian element, or premeditation. Your refusal to address this is not helping you make your argument it seems to me.

    In your last post, you seem to suggest that any time sectarian tensions in the area rise there is an incident where someone is run over with a car. This is not the case. Several people have been the victims of sectarian murder in north Belfast (I can think of 3 or 4 off hand) in the same period who you have ignored. Your case is unproven, cannot be proven, and to raise it in the fashion you did was irresponsible.

  • Valenciano

    “During a period of heightened sectarian tension, over the space of ten months (Sep 01-Jul 02) there were two people killed and one seriously injured (permamently) in hit and run incidents within an area approximately two mile square. In all three incidents the cars mounted the footpath to hit the victims. The victims were all from one side of the sectarian divide and the two convicted from the other.”

    Sorry but this is ridiculous. What you are suggesting re the McDonald case, similar to loyalist websites ,is that one fine morning, the driver bundled two teenagers and a one year old kid into the car and drove around with the express intention of running over a kid. A little bit of a far fetched scenario no? The judge in the case certainly thought so too as he cleared her of any premeditation and did take into account the considerable provocation involved (suppose the car had crashed?)

    Describing the McDonald case as “hit and run” anyway while technically correct ignores the practicalities of the situation. The driver in question drove off then handed herself in at Greencastle Police station. Had she remained at the scene then she and the 3 young passengers in the car would almost certainly have been seriously assaulted or worse. So in the circumstances she did the only thing she could.

    The driver Alison McKeown may be catholic, however her father is a protestant and she has a son, also to a protestant man – hardly the usual background and actions of a rampant bigot. In contrast McDonald was UDA up to the hilt, his uncle being UDA brigadier Jackie. The fact that just a week into the school term his family apparently thought it better for him to be riding round fit and healthy carrying out sectarian attacks rather than getting an education is pretty telling anyway.

    Other mitigating circumstances came out during the court case ie the fact that young McDonald had already been in bother with the police for attacking other motorists. A tragic accident indeed but I do know who the real sectarian was in the incident and it certainly wasn’t the car driver!

  • loyalist

    Other mitigating circumstances came out during the court case ie the fact that young McDonald had already been in bother with the police for attacking other motorists.

    If that’s enough for a death sentence then Alison should watch out.

  • Irish Aussie

    You gutless turd loyalist, what a man you are