Flickers of Hope as churches remain in the firing line


Another sectarian attack on a church, this time in east Antrim, where loyalists have made a concerted effort to intimidate the local catholic populace in recent times.

On this occasion, the target was the catholic parishioners of Whitehead, though in the more recent past it has been the small catholic communities of Carrickfergus, Greenisland and Ballyclare who have bore the brunt of the sectarian antics of loyalists in the overwhelmingly unionist region. Catholic schools and churches in each of the towns have been specifically targeted by flag protestors, with Union Flags pinned to the railings of St Colman’s Catholic Church in Greenisland and large Union Flags erected at the entrance to both it and St Nicholas’ Church in Carrickfergus, where there was also the council invasion by loyalists who dished out sectarian abuse to the unsuspecting councillors (worth noting that both catholic churches have been rebuilt in the post-ceasefire era following sectarian arson attacks.)

On a much more positive note, it was heartening to hear that members of Townland Amateur Boxing Club in Glenavy were joined by the local Sinn Fein representative last Friday as they organized and took part in a clean up of the grounds of the village Church of Ireland church, St Aidan’s, which was itself targeted by sectarian vandals intent on intimidating and spreading fear amongst a small minority protestant community in the south west Antrim community.

  • David Crookes

    Thanks, Chris. I wonder how many of these fascist wimps are regular churchgoers of any kind. You say in your last paragraph, ‘…..it was heartening to hear that members of Townland Amateur Boxing Club in Glenavy were joined by the local Sinn Fein representative last Friday as they organized and took part in a clean up of the grounds of the village Church of Ireland church…..’ Amen.

    Maybe some day a number of fascist wimps will be caught on video as they attack a church, prosecuted, and severely punished.

  • Must sometimes be confusing for visitors to Carrickfergus since the COI church is also called St.Nicholas”.

  • between the bridges

    like chris i condemn all acts of ‘sectarian vandals’ a few spring to mind…
    and so on
    21/01/2012 Ballymacall Orange Hall Grafitti & Damage
    10/03/2012 Legananny Orange Hall Arson
    07/03/2012 Benraw Orange Hall Arson
    15/03/2012 Augharonan Orange Hall Arson
    24/03/2012 Ballymaconnelly Orange Hall Window Smashed
    03/07/2012 Whitewell Road Orange Hall Grafitti
    03/07/2012 Apprentice Boys Memorial Hall (3rd/4th time this year) Paint Bombs
    17/07/2012 Clifton Street Orange Hall Paint Bombs
    17/07/2012 Glenavy Orange Hall Paint Bombs
    19/07/2012 Bellaghy Orange Hall Paint Bomb
    08/08/2012 Glenavy Orange Hall(3rd time this year) Arson
    14/01/2011 Strawletterdallon Orange Hall, Newtownstewart Windows Smashed,
    15/01/2011 Derigina Orange Hall, Aughnacloy Windows Smashed
    15/01/2011 Mullnahunch Orange Hall Grafitti
    16/01/2011 Strawletterdallon Orange Hall, Newtownstewart Arson
    12/01/2011 Cullenfad Orange Hall Door Damaged
    04/04/2011 Sheepbridge Orange Hall Arson
    12/04/2011 Ligionel Orange Hall Arson – Destroyed
    11/06/2011 Dunloy Orange Hall Paint Bomb
    01/07/2011 Inver Orange Hall, Roslea Arson – Destroyed
    03/07/2011 Lurgan Orange Hall Arson
    09/07/2011 Coolafinney Orange Hall, Eglinton Arson
    15/07/2011 Dunloy Orange Hall Grafitti
    21/07/2011 Tedd Orange Hall, Irvinestown (3rd time in 12 months) Grafitti & Windows Smashed
    04/10/2011 Tullaghans Orange Hall Petrol Bombs
    03/11/2011 Carricklongfield Orange Hall, Aughnacloy Arson
    and so on

  • Framer

    And here’s one not covered on the BBC NI website (wrong sort of memorial I suppose):

    ‘Widow condemns theft of husband’s memorial’

    News Letter (24 Dec)

    THE widow of a man taken out of his digger and shot by the IRA 35 years ago last night said the news that his memorial had been stolen “is just all I need coming up to Christmas”.
    Betty Clarke, 62, spoke to the News Letter after discovering a mahogany memorial she had cemented in place just one year ago on the site where her husband was abducted near Mullaghabawn in south Armagh had been stolen.
    On April 2, 1977, Hugh William Clarke, 31, was found lying on the roadside on the Belleeks to Crossmaglen Road.
    He had been shot three times in the head by the IRA.
    The father-of-three had been digging drains at a farm in Mullaghbawn when he was abducted by three armed and masked men.
    He was driven a short distance before being shot and his body dumped at Redmond’s Cross, about five miles from the border.
    Mr Clarke – whose wife Betty was expecting their fourth child – then lived in Fairview, Newtownhamilton, Co Armagh.
    “When I heard this today, well, it does not help me coming up to Christmas,” said Mrs Clarke.
    “It is 35 years since Willie was shot and it feels like yesterday.
    “The people who did this are nothing but scum.
    “I have no words for them.
    “My daughter rang me in hysterics when she found out what had happened. That’s all we need coming up to Christmas.
    “I don’t know when it happened exactly.
    “We put the memorial there about a year ago. We had been hesitant to do it because we thought it would have been destroyed. But it was OK for a year so we thought it would last.
    “But look what has happened.”
    Mrs Clarke, who now has 13 grandchildren, said: “My husband has missed out on so much, on all his grandchildren and everything.
    “But sure they don’t care.
    “Willie was in nothing. He wasn’t even an Orangeman.
    “His crime was being a Protestant. When he died I was 26 years old and expecting our fourth child.”
    At Mr Clarke’s funeral a Presbyterian minister said he was not a member of the RUC or the UDR, “nor was he in a paramilitary organisation or group, as some would have the world believe”.
    At the time SDLP representative Paddy O’Hanlon also said: “He was murdered by the IRA because he was a Protestant as well as being a man who worked for a living.
    “The perpetrators of this foul deed like their compatriots in the UVF would crucify Christ if he appeared in the north of Ireland this week and the leadership of the IRA would show no hesitation in supplying the nails.”

    Yes I’d never heard of him.

  • ranger1640

    It is only proper that we condemn those who intimidate and carry out sectarian damage both physical and in words.

    And to carry on Chris’ theme, we must not forget the isolated and small Protestant communities around Northern Ireland who are bearing the brunt of the sectarian antics of republicans at this time of year, and indeed all year round.


  • galloglaigh

    Don’t forget the sectarian hammer and bat attack on a Catholic in Derry, with a similar ring to the attack on Paul McCauley and others in the area over a decade.

  • Kevsterino

    I was happy to read of the cleanup at the C of I Church. It shows some folks are trying to move beyond mutually assured aggravation.

    Sorry to hear about the stolen memorial. That’s just cruel.

    Beyond that, BtB’s litany of whataboutery looks paradoxical. Beginning with a condemnation of all sectarian vandals, it cites only one portion of them with a list I suppose is intended to be overwhelming. Poorly crafted to make any kind of salient point.

  • iluvni

    I wonder what Paddy O’Hanlon would think of the sdlp honouring a sectarian terrorist in Newry 35 years later

  • sonofstrongbow

    A despicable attack that has rightly been condemned across the sectarian divide. Well done to the parishioners and others for preparing another venue for the Christmas devotions.

    “Whataboutery”, or context, aside I doubt you’ll see a parade of unionists (no pun intended) coming onto this thread claiming the attack was by “just a couple of hoods” or a “black ops” attack by co-religionists to besmirch the other community as we witnessed on Slugger following the attack on Glenavy Church of Ireland.

  • Comrade Stalin

    I think it’s entirely appropriate to point out that these attacks are not as one sided as Chris’ original article seems to imply. The attacks on Orange halls has been pretty much non stop. There is no distinction between arson or vandalism irrespective of whether it is an Orange hall or a church – the intent is the same.

  • between the bridges

    Kev, cheers for replying to my poorly crafted point…

  • “There is no distinction between arson or vandalism irrespective of whether it is an Orange hall or a church – the intent is the same.”

    Indeed the intent is the same but arguably the motive is different. Although criminal damage can’t be justified in this day and age, I have no more sympathy for damage to Orange Halls as I would for any other organisation that promotes intolerance and hate. I don’t cry into my Weetabix when I hear of English Defence League rallies being attacked or KKK property being destroyed – it comes with the territory. Similarly for the Orange Order, if you are going to promote sectarianism and hate, then there are always going to be those who will oppose you by all sorts of means.

  • between the bridges

    ulick i take it you are equally happy on the rare occasion a GAA hall gets similar treatment…ah but ,no but, ah but that’s different…

  • Comrade Stalin


    You may or may not have seen the article about how Bishop Davies of Shrewsbury plans, in his Midnight Mass sermon, to liken attempts to legalize same-sex marriage as being akin to the work of Hitler and Stalin. Be careful of who you point the dirty end of the stick at when you’re talking about intolerance and hate.

    The Orange Order is a great deal more than an organization that preaches intolerance and hate, although this undoubtedly gets lost beneath the organization’s failure to confront the problems it does have, and that is surely why the organization is facing a steep decline. It wouldn’t be for me, but I know of Orangemen who have no ill will to their fellow countrymen. I think a bit of understanding is called for.

  • ranger1640

    I would also like to add to the list the memorial to 3 Scottish soldiers. The 3 young soldiers were off duty and lured away from a city centre bar by two women and then murdered by the provos at Ligoneil. The memorial has again been vandalized, for the fifth time in recent days.


  • Framer

    There’s whataboutery and there is pre-whataboutery which this article is. They are the same thing.
    But it is the case, that whoever cries sectarian first wins the argument.

  • Kevsterino

    Vandalism of any property, of any sort is unacceptable and those who continue to engage in it require a stint in prison. Further, if more folks took advantage of the opportunity to show support for those vandalized, it could go a long way to promote understanding, thus defeating the motives of the vandals.

  • looneygas

    Framer, you make an interesting and clever point at 6:44. Mr. Donelly should be charged with initement to whataboutery. Please don’t take this comment from a foreigner (Canadian) as incitement to whatabout-the-natives-ery.

  • looneygas


  • alan56

    Whitehead is a quiet little backwater where one would imagine people of all faiths live peacefully together.How politically clever of these ‘loyalists’ to target the local Catholic community. Hopefully the Whitehead community will show love and neighbourliness this Christmas and send a message to the bully boys

  • GavBelfast

    The bastard dregs of each tribe here really are just as bad as each other.

    I really don’t see the point of selective stirring, starting a thread like this, and that poor taste seems even worse at Christmas.

    Unfortunately, while culprits and those who would excuse them are indulged, with ridiculously puny punishments handed-out on the rare occasions that the guilty are actually found and convicted, evil hate-crimes will continue.

    Merry Christmas, here’s to a peaceful one for all of us.

  • Well said, Gavbelfast.

  • ranger1640

    Yesterday a simple cross to memorial to Willie Clark a Protestant murdered by the IRA at Mullaghbane in South Armagh was destroyed again. Family members travelled to place flowers at the memorial only to find that the top of the simple wooden cross had been broken off and taken away. The top section of the cross had a small brass plate engraved with his name, date and saying that he was murdered.

    Mr Clark was a Protestant civilian who was working on a digger in an adjacent field when republicans dragged him of the machine and executed him on the spot in 1977. It was part of the republicans ethnic cleansing of the area.

    This is close to the Irish republican Ti Chulainn Centre complete with a large IRA memorial. This is the same centre that children were photographed in paramilitary uniform holding weapons.

    An alleged republican centre for peace, so I’m lead to believe???

  • ranger1640

    In this season of good will I wonder if the shinner members and supporters here on slugger, could inquire as to the health specificity the broken wrist a member of Sinn Fein member suffered when he fell off the roof of Newcastle Orange Hall in 2007. I’m sure we would all agree this was a direct attack on the small Protestant Unionist Loyalist community in Newcastle.

    Has he fully recovered and Is he still a member?

    Did he or Sinn Fein apologise and replace the Union Flag he removed???

    Did he ever get prosecuted for criminal damage?


  • DC

    Any chance they could replace the one missing on City Hall too?

  • Lads if you are going to introduce whataboutry to deflect attention to a blog then you have to accept someone is going to come along and pick holes in the “equivalence”.

    There is nothing in my club constitution about forsaking Papists or anyone else for that matter and we don’t go marching around the streets pissing in Church doorways, singing vile songs and generally fermenting sectarian hatred.

    Sounds to me like Bishop Davies is off his rocker (if what you say is true) but I doubt very much he figured much in the thoughts of unionists who attack Catholic schools and places of worship.

    Far from being a civilian, “Willie” Clarke has been alleged to be the man who fingered John Green to be murdered by Robert Nairac. Now I don’t condone anyone vandalising his memorial but it’s unrealistic to think that it would escape attention in those parts given his role in the Green assassination.

  • ranger1640

    Isn’t “alleged” a much over and under emphasized phrase by republicans.

    Time after time republicans remind us that you can’t make allegations about their dear leader as there’s no proof???

    Then as if by magic “alleged” can be trotted out to defame an innocent Protestant civilian and IRA victim in south Armagh.

    I think we should call “alleged” the “Gerry at Slugger rule”!!!

  • Maybe time you laid off the mulled wine ranger. Catch you in the new year…

  • foyle observer

    ”isn’t ‘alleged’ a much over and under emphasized phrase by republicans”.

    Not sure what you mean by over AND under emphasized but isn’t ‘ethnic cleansing’ a very exaggarated term used by unionists to describe the wiping out of Loyalist murderers in South Armagh?

  • David Crookes

    From this morning’s BBC news:

    “Two US volunteer firefighters are shot dead and two injured while responding to an emergency call in the town of Webster in New York state.”

    Every one of us can read that terrible tale as a thing in itself.

    Chris gave us an informative posting. It may bring a bit of comfort to Slugger-readers in Whitehead and Glenavy if we contributors can manage to read his posting as a thing in itself.

  • Fick_Mealty

    Chris gave us an informative posting. It may bring a bit of comfort to Slugger-readers in Whitehead and Glenavy if we contributors can manage to read his posting as a thing in itself.

    Get with it David, you need some smelling salts and doses of reality, oh please…

  • David Crookes

    Sorry if I’ve offended anyone. Probably shouldn’t have tried to write a comment at all after eating a twelve-course Christmas Eve dinner with my Polish friends. Oh, well. At least I can still spell my own name. Happy Christmas, everyone.

    Try to remember what Ziereck Adonis Dvornik said..

    If reality stinks, change it in the New Year.

  • babyface finlayson

    Flickers of hope as ‘themuns’ remain in the firing line.

    Republican blogger posts 98 pieces having a go at loyalists,but tacks on a couple of conciliatory comments to show he sees the bigger picture.

    Unionist blogger posts 98 pieces having a go at republicans but tacks on a few posts on astronomy to show he sees the bigger picture.
    I’m referring to a completely different site of course. Not here.

  • ranger1640

    Interesting peace in my link below, it seems that on-going attacks on a Presbyterian church, cumulating in the latest attack. The painting of the church sign green, white and orange, is not sectarian just vandalism well according to shinners and the PSNI.

    Yet there was no mention of sectarianism given in Chris’ first link above. It is as the PSNI described it a “suspicious fire” at a Roman Catholic church in Whitehead. However, the poster a Sinn Fein supporter is claiming the PSNI described event “suspicious fire” as sectarian?

    Is there mixed messages form the Shinners here at slugger an in Lurgan. The PSNIs “suspicious fire” attack is now sectarian according to the shinners on slugger and the other attack the painting of a Presbyterian Church sign in republican colours is defined as vandalism?

    An shinner Ireland of equals.