Tuesday, July 19, 2005

British colonial "peace workers" behave disgracefully in North clashes

George Jackson:

A MAGISTRATE yesterday described as a "disgrace" the actions of two voluntary workers who admitted taking part in sectarian violence in the Waterside area of Derry last Wednesday.

Magistrate Barney McElholm was told that local men Richard McCombe (34),from Bann Drive and John Thompson (39), from the Fountain, both of whom admitted a charge of disorderly behaviour, worked with the Protestant Interface Community Network, an organisation set up to prevent young Protestants becoming involved in sectarian incidents.

The men, along with co-accused Paul McGarrigle (34), from Copperthorpe, also in the Waterside, were given a four months jail sentence, suspended for two years as well as fined stg £200. McGarrigle also admitted the offence.

A PSNI inspector told the court that early last Wednesday morning, police officers patrolled the interface area between the Protestant Irish Street Estate and the Catholic Gobnascale Estate.

There a group of about 30 people emerged from Irish Street Estate and threw missiles towards the Gobnascale Estate. Several minutes later a crowd of about 30 people from Gobnascale confronted the Loyalist group.

"The rival factions faced up to each other and disturbances occurred. The police had to move in to separate them. The police officers identified the three defendants and they were arrested," he said.

A solicitor for the three co-accused said that both McCombe and Thompson worked for the Protestant Interface Community Network.

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