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Last Updated: Thursday, 3 July, 2003, 19:56 GMT 20:56 UK
Loyalists hit out at racist attacks
Senior loyalists have called for an end to a spate of racist attacks in south Belfast.

Progressive Unionist Party leader David Ervine and Tommy Kirkham of the Ulster Political Research Group hit out at a series of attacks on ethnic groups in the area.

Police are investigating whether a pipe bomb attack earlier this week on an ethnic couple and their eight-week-old baby twins in Donegall Avenue was racially motivated.

The home of two black South African women on the same road was attacked with a pipe bomb last month.

A number of other possible racially motivated incidents in the same area are also being investigated.

Police say literature bearing the name of a militant British political party had been posted through the doors of people from ethnic backgrounds.

Initiative

Mr Ervine, whose party is linked to the loyalist Ulster Volunteer Force, and Mr Kirkham, whose group represents the Ulster Defence Association, said in a joint statement they were working on an initiative to end the attacks.

The statement said: "Both groups are opposed to any form of racism within our community and are, in fact, working in support of minority groups in our community.

"Both David Ervine and Tommy Kirkham have appealed to those responsible to cease forthwith."

Mr Kirkham admitted that "rogue loyalists" were to blame, but insisted neither paramilitary group would have allowed such a campaign.

He added: "There's a few people who have moved into this part of the city with links to the British National Party and it is this small element which needs to be brought into line.

"The fact is, it wouldn't be possible for the UDA and UVF not to know what's going on in south Belfast, but these are rogue loyalist individuals and both groupings need to say enough is enough.

"We will make sure they are ostracised within the loyalist community and this is only the start of a bigger alliance between the two groups."

'Undercurrent'

Last week, Dr Alasdair McDonnell of the SDLP said an undercurrent of racism in some loyalist areas had led to a string of attacks on African people.

Dr James Uhomoibhi, chairman of the Northern Ireland African Cultural Centre, said the people were just trying to make a life for themselves.

Police say 226 racial incidents were reported between April 2002 and April 2003, with 185 such attacks in the previous year.




SEE ALSO:
NI 'needs to tackle racism'
21 Mar 03  |  Northern Ireland
Racism discussed at conference
28 Feb 03  |  Northern Ireland
NI 'needs anti-racism forum'
10 Dec 02  |  Northern Ireland
Police appeal after racial attacks
13 Feb 03  |  Northern Ireland


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