Wednesday, November 30, 2005

US white supremacists distance themselves from Northern racists

Ciarán Barnes:

The Ku Klux Klan yesterday distanced itself from a group of right-wing fanatics who have been holding white supremacist meetings in Co Antrim.

In a statement released to Daily Ireland, the United States-based Klan claimed it had nothing to do with the group that has been holding regular get-togethers in Ballyclare, Ballymena, Ballymoney and Coleraine.

A Klan spokesman said: “We have members in foreign countries but we do not attempt to organise in foreign lands because we are not familiar with the laws and issues which other countries may have.”

In a direct reference to the north Antrim gang, he added: “This office knows nothing about them.”

The Co Antrim group of fanatics is believed to include a number of loyalist paramilitaries.

It has masqueraded under a series of different names such as the White Nationalist Party, the Third Way, and Aryan Unity.

Members have carried out leaflet drops and placed posters on street corners advocating policies such as racial segregation, the criminalisation of homosexual acts, and fighting those regarded as “commies”.

Those in the gang even dressed up as Klansmen in white robes with pointed masks and burned a cross on Ballymena’s Clonavon Road.

North Antrim Sinn Féin assembly member Philip McGuigan said: “The activities of this far-right group in the north Antrim area are well documented.

“The gang is made up of loyalists who have held meetings and who have put racist posters and flyers around towns.

“It just goes to show how thuggish they are when a racist organisation like the Ku Klux Klan distances itself from them.

“The public has no appetite for these people and they would do everyone a service if they disappear and take their hate-filled messages with them.”

PSNI records from April 2004 to April 2005 show that 83 racial incidents occurred in the north Antrim area.

This figure accounts for more than ten per cent of all racist crime in the North during that period.

In total, 813 racial incidents occurred in the North during the 2004-05 financial year. In the 2002-03 financial year, 226 racist crimes were recorded.

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