Socialist Worker

Loyalist thugs who want more killing

by Hazel Croft
Issue No. 1783

LOYALIST TERROR reached shocking new levels in Belfast in Northern Ireland this week. Two masked Loyalist gunmen shot Catholic postal worker Danny McColgan dead as he arrived for work on the mainly Loyalist Rathcoole estate last Saturday morning. They shot him five times in the back and twice in the head. Danny was 20 years old. He and his partner, Lindsay, have a 13 month old child.

He was killed by the Red Hand Defenders, a cover name used by Loyalist paramilitary groups the Ulster Defence Association and the Loyalist Volunteer Force. These terror squads have been inflicting increasing violence and brutality on Catholics over the last year. After murdering Danny McColgan the Loyalists issued a death threat to all Catholic postal workers, claiming they were 'legitimate targets'.

Last week Loyalist paramilitaries issued similar death threats against 'all teachers in Catholic schools in north Belfast-all teachers, cleaning staff, principals, any Catholic who works in these schools, we are considering legitimate targets. We will shoot them.'

Danny's murder follows more rioting outside the Holy Cross Catholic primary school, where Loyalists have systematically terrorised schoolgirls. Six Loyalist thugs also rampaged through Our Lady of Mercy, a Catholic school in the Loyalist Ballysillan area.

The men carried iron bars, and smashed 20 teachers' cars in the car park. One pupil, Shauna, says that 'men armed with guns, crowbars and pickaxes entered the school grounds'. Loyalists also attacked Joe Murphy, a Catholic father of five, repeatedly stabbing him in the head.

Since Saturday Loyalists have painted slogans around north Belfast: 'All Taigs [a derogatory word for Catholics] are targets' and 'Danny, revenge is sweet'. These Loyalist thugs are a tiny minority of Northern Ireland's Protestant population.

The residents on the Rathcoole estate put a sympathy notice into Monday's Irish Times. It read, 'Every decent and hard-working Protestant in Rathcoole would like to express our horror at the senseless murder of Daniel McColgan. Those responsible do not represent the vast majority of people who live in this estate.'

There has been a massive decline and fragmentation of hardcore Loyalist support over the last few decades. They have only been able to continue their violent campaign because of the failure of the British government and mainstream politicians in Northern Ireland to deal with sectarian divisions.

Instead of bringing Catholics and Protestants together, the new Northern Ireland Assembly's structures have entrenched sectarianism. Official politics in Northern Ireland are based around Unionist and Loyalist politicians defending 'their Protestant community', with Nationalists and Republicans defending Catholics. At the same time politicians have failed to redress the growing poverty that hits both Catholics and Protestants.

Workers strike against murder

WORKERS IN Northern Ireland were due to walk out on strike on Friday as a mark of respect for Danny and in anger at his killers. The Irish Congress of Trade Unions, equivalent to the British TUC, called on all public sector workers to join a half-day strike and mass rally in Belfast on Friday.

The action was to show 'the revulsion at the increasing sectarianism rampant within Northern Ireland', said a union spokesperson. The action comes after a walkout by Danny's fellow postal workers in the Mallusk sorting office within hours of hearing of his murder. The workers-both Protestant and Catholic-decided at a meeting to stay out until Tuesday as a mark of respect.

This prompt response by members of the Communication Workers Union forced their Royal Mail bosses to back the workers' shutdown. The action was set to escalate on Tuesday, when thousands of postal workers across the whole of Belfast were due to hold a 24-hour strike to mark Danny's funeral.

In Derry postal workers held a walkout and gathered in the city centre on Monday in protest at the killing and Loyalist threats against postal workers. Niall, who works at the Mallusk sorting office, says, 'We have been warning Royal Mail for over a year now that a postal worker will be killed in north Belfast.

'There have been a number of attacks on postal workers on the Hightown Road over the last 18 months. Postal workers coming back after a delivery have no choice but to go through that area.'

Postal workers are concerned that management's response may be to do the Loyalists' ethnic cleansing for them by simply moving workers under threat to other areas. This is what happened last year. But the threats were withdrawn after postal workers stopped all deliveries to the area.

'This is exactly the kind of solidarity action that has seen threats against DSS and hospital workers withdrawn,' says Niall. 'It's the kind of action we in Royal Mail need to take now. 'Otherwise we will go to work each day scared that it will be our last. 'We can't live like this. We have to isolate the sectarian bigots and let the UDA know that they won't be allowed to get away with this.'

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Article information

Sat 19 Jan 2002, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1783
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