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Alderman John Matthews
tells BBC NI's Wendy Austin about the police meeting
 real 28k

Friday, 2 February, 2001, 10:35 GMT
Larne campaign to stop attacks
Stones were thrown through the windows of house
This Larne home was attacked by stonethrowers
The police in the town of Larne in Northern Ireland are to step up their efforts to stop sectarian attacks.

Alliance Party Alderman John Matthews has said he met two senior officers who assured him that more resources were being brought to bear on those responsible.

Some areas of Larne have been plagued by sectarianism in recent weeks.

The issue has been raised in the Northern Ireland Assembly and with the RUC Chief Constable Sir Ronnie Flanagan.

In one instance last month, a young Catholic woman said she was leaving her home in the town because of the intimidation.

Helena McCambridge said her home at Fanad Walk, Larne, had been targeted eight times.

The victims of the violence come from both sides of the community.

If a cat is run over the question is asked, what religion is that cat?

Alderman Matthews

Alderman Matthews said he found attitudes in the town upsetting:

"What appalls me, is that it seems to be one side says 'look there are more Ccatholics getting attacked, or there are more protestants' when it's people that are getting attacked."

"It's getting to the stage where if a cat is run over on the street in Larne, the question is asked, 'what religion is that cat,' " he said.

Mr Matthews said the situation had prompted him to meet Superintendent Karen Kennedy and Chief Inspector David Hanna on Thursday.

They told him they were making changes to "personnel, manning and technology" to fight the attacks.

He said he believed the police were coming to grips with the problem which he said was caused by perhaps no more than a dozen people.

Helena McCambridge:
Helena McCambridge: home targeted eight times

But, he said, they needed more help from the public to get the evidence together to bring the perpetrators to court.

Last month the chief constable said the attacks on Catholic homes were being carried out by loyalist paramilitaries and he was in "no doubt" that members of the Ulster Defence Association were involved.

But he said it was not clear whether the attacks were organised and sanctioned by the leadership of the UDA.

The RUC in Coleraine have already outlined an eight-point plan to combat sectarian attacks there.

They announced plans for more covert operations, "stop and search" checkpoints and greater forensic analysis at crime scenes.

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See also:

31 Jan 01 | Northern Ireland
Police plan targets pipe bombers
16 Jan 01 | Northern Ireland
UDA upsurge in violence
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Bishop concerned at sectarian attacks
11 Jan 01 | Northern Ireland
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10 Jan 01 | Northern Ireland
Bomb attack was 'attempted murder'
02 May 00 | Northern Ireland
Larne 'rotten with sectarianism'
16 Aug 00 | Northern Ireland
Police pledge over sectarian attacks
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