Joe O'Donnell, the Sinn Fein deputy mayor of Belfast, focused on the sectarian hatred that the nationalist people of the Short Strand in east Belfast had been forced to endure.
The area is an enclave of 3,500 Catholics set amongst 90,000 unionists."The people live in an enclave with a fence around the outside, one access in and one access out," said Mr O'Donnell
. Mr O'Donnell
recalled how whenever the unionists are forced to move in the peace process there is a volatile reaction against the nationalist community.In areas like the Short Strand this manifests itself in physical attacks.
In one recent period, the Short Strand area was under virtually perpetual attack."Over that period there was no access to doctors, the baby clinic, the post office and the DHSS head office.Prescriptions were being made out in my community office and people were getting buses across Belfast
to get shopping and benefits," recalled Mr O'Donnell
. Mr O'Donnell
attacked the media for reporting the violence at the time within the model of tit for tat attacks."The Police Service of Northern Ireland did nothing.They said they could not get out of their landrovers for health and safety reasons," said Mr O'Donnell
questioned why Tony Blair has not stood up and said he
will not tolerate the recent declaration of the Ulster Defence Association
that it will draw an arms line across Belfast
.No one will be allowed to move across this unofficial sectarian divide."We've tried to put practical processes in place but you cannot legislate for violence that comes from within the Loyalist community," said Mr O'Donnell