Tensions are high in Catholic north Belfast again, following the murder of a 20-year-old Catholic postal worker.Daniel McColgan was shot dead as he reported for work at a postal depot in a sprawling loyalist housing estate on thefringes of north Belfast. His murder was almost immediately claimed by the loyalist paramilitary force the UlsterDefense Association.
Since the murder postal workers and teachers in Catholic schools across Northern Ireland have received death threats.Yesterday morning, a Protestant boys’ school was evacuated after a bomb threat. Last week, riots flared in Catholicand Protestant enclaves across Northern Irish towns.
The renewed violence comes after months of loyalist protests outside the Catholic Holy Cross girls’ elementary nearBelfast. Several months ago Protestants began heckling girls and throwing scalding tea and urine-filled balloons atthem. After a pipe bomb exploded at the school, riots broke out at night.
The murder of Daniel McColgan was a major blow to the northern Irish peace process, which many believed had entered anew era after the IRA agreed to begin disarmament shortly after the attacks of September 11th. This happens in theframework of a momentous and controversial move. Sinn Fein, the Northern Irish nationalist political party, movedsome of their offices to the British House of Parliament at Westminster. Sinn Fein’s four members of parliamentrefused to take their seats in what they call a “foreign parliament” and will not make the oath of allegiance tothe Queen usually required to sit in the Commons. But after a controversial parliament vote, Sinn Fein will be ableto use the palace’s facilities and receive office allowances.
Today we are joined from Belfast by Anne Tanney, the principal of the Holy Cross school. Angie Boyle is also with us,whose ten year old daughter Helen is a student at Holy Cross. Last week Boyle decided to withdraw her daughter fromthe school.
We are also joined by two schoolteachers, who helped to organize a major trade union rally on Friday in protest ofrecent outbreaks of sectarian violence. The Irish Congress of Trade Unions joined with teachers and hospital unionsto call for a half-day work stoppage on Friday, to call for an end to the riots.Close to 50,000 people came out to the demonstration in the pouring rain on Friday, in central Belfast and in townsacross Northern Ireland.
- Anne Tanney, principal of Catholic Holy Cross girls’ elementary school, Belfast.
- Angie Boyle, mother of student at Holy Cross school, who has withdrawn her daughter from the school.
- John Price, schoolteacher at a Catholic school in Belfast and a member of the Irish Congress of TradeUnions.
- Mark Hewitt, schoolteacher at a Protestant school in Belfast.