Sunday Life

UVF gangsters blamed for race-hate attacks

29 August 2004

UVF members are suspected of being behind the recent racist attacks in the Portadown and mid-Ulster areas.

Over the past few weeks, there have been a number of random attacks on members of the ethnic communities in the area.

In Armagh City a Lithuanian man required hospital treatment, after he was badly beaten by a number of attackers.

A few hours later, the man's home in Alexander Park was damaged in a petrol bomb attack.

In nearby Co Tyrone, members of the Dungannon Portuguese community have also been the target for a series of racially motivated attacks.

And, last weekend, the homes of two Portuguese families, in Portadown's loyalist Rectory Park estate, were damaged, when a loyalist gang smashed in doors, in an early morning attack.

Just days earlier, another immigrant worker was beaten up and badly injured, near Portadown town centre.

Security sources in mid-Ulster, said they believed the Portadown attacks were linked to an incident in the town a few weeks ago, when a relative of a senior loyalist was injured, after a fight broke out between the local UVF and members of the town's ethnic community.

The sources said they believed last weekend's attack on the two innocent Portuguese families, was the work of the local UVF unit.

They stressed the victims had no link at all to the earlier fight, and believe the UVF members are picking random targets for the race-hate crimes.

Earlier this summer, an embarrassed David Ervine, leader of the UVF-linked Progressive Unionist Party, admitted that UVF members had been distributing racist literature in south Belfast, and condemned their actions.

NIO Security Minister, Ian Pearson, described last weekend's attack in Portadown as 'utterly despicable'.

He urged local people to support the police in bringing those responsible for the attacks before the courts.

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