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News :: International
​Outrage in N. Ireland as Ku Klux Klan flag raised in Belfast
01 Jul 2014
Right Wing Terror
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The residents of one street in Belfast, Northern Ireland, woke up Tuesday morning to see a Ku Klux Klan flag flying from a lamppost. The extremist emblem immediately prompted public outrage, and local MPs filed a lawsuit.

The blue “New Order Knights” flag, including the inscription “Ku Klux Klan” was raised on a lamppost in eastern Belfast, British media reported.

The incident was immediately condemned by local authorities.

The use of flags hailing a hate group such as the KKK “is sickening” and “lends a further menacing element to recent events,” said Naomi Long, from the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland.

“Yet again we see those who wish to bully anyone different from them use flags and emblems to assert dominance and control over a community,” she said. “To do so at all is to be condemned, but to put up these flags in broad daylight shows just how brazen the culprits are."

Long said it was essential that every right-thinking person unites against “those who engage in racist, bigoted or otherwise intolerant behavior.”

“It is also critical that the all-party talks this week stop ducking the issue of the use and abuse of flags and emblems for the purposes of intimidation, and face up to dealing substantively with this challenge to a shared future and to the rule of law,” she said.

This latest incident adds an "even more sinister edge" to recent racist attacks in the region.

At least 982 racist incidents were reported in 2013-2014 by the annual Human Rights and Racial Equality Benchmarking Report for Northern Ireland. The numbers have grown from 2012-13, when 750 racist incidents were reported by the watchdog.

Despite a large number of cases, only 12 people were convicted for over 14,000 hate crimes in Northern Ireland in the last five years.

Those who are behind the xenophobic attack are showing "intolerance and provocative aggression," said Gavin Robinson, a council member from the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).

"It is a huge level of pathetic stupidity, especially on a week when many in the unionist and loyalist community came together to devise a strategy to combat racism," he said.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) said that the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), a Protestant paramilitary organization whose members have long history of violence and terrorist convictions, is behind racist attacks in the region.

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N. Ireland - Sinn Féin has 'good' meeting with Cameron
02 Jul 2014
The meeting had been planned for Downing St but at the last minute Mr Cameron's office changed the location to the House of Commons, denying Sinn Féin the iconic image of the famous front door. The party, however, said the meeting was a good one and that Mr Cameron acknowledged the difficulties in the peace process. Mr Adams said there would be another meeting in the autumn.

Earlier the party had complained that Mr Cameron had behaved deplorably in avoiding meeting the party. Sinn Féin also insisted that Mr Cameron was failing to live up to his obligations under the Good Friday Agreement.

Earlier there were clear signs of the difficulties in Northern Ireland's administration when First Minister Peter Robinson emerged from his own discussions with Mr Cameron. He said it was an outrage that Sinn Féin was blocking welfare reforms in the North, a stance the party says it makes no apologies for.

Meanwhile, talks on a new bid to reach agreement on unresolved peace process issues are under way in Belfast. The three-day session of intensive negotiations focused on long-standing disputes over flags, parades and the legacy of the past is taking place at Stormont.

Delegations from the five parties in the power-sharing executive are trying to achieve some degree of progress and reduce community tensions before the biggest day of the loyal order marching season on 12 July. In recent years serious rioting has broken out in north Belfast linked to a contentious Orange Order parade on a short stretch of road next to a nationalist neighbourhood.

The talks involving the Democratic Unionists, Sinn Féin, the Ulster Unionists, the SDLP and Alliance Party will be facilitated by a senior civil servant. The renewed talks bid comes at Stormont six months after marathon negotiations chaired by former US diplomat Richard Haass ended without agreement.

While draft proposals outlined by Dr Haass remain on the table, with the party leaders having met periodically to discuss the outstanding issues since January, efforts to strike a deal in his absence have made little progress.
Belfast - Brits Out Now!
03 Jul 2014
Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams questioned for seventeen hours in police custody about IRA killings of police spies.