UVF link to hate crimes 'unchallenged'

UVF link to hate crimes 'unchallenged'

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness has launched a stinging attack on unionist politicians over their response to recent racist attacks in east Belfast.

The Sinn Féin MLA blamed elements within the UVF and the Orange Order for the violence.Speaking in the Assembly on Monday, Mr McGuinness said: "I have made it crystal clear in the course of recent times that a lot of the violence that's been going on in Belfast has been orchestrated by elements within the UVF and with some assistance from the Orange Order."He went on to say no-one has challenged his claims, adding: "I note that on a number of occasions when I have been at this dispatch box, not one member from the unionist benches has had the courage to challenge my assertion that the UVF and Orange Order are responsible."Gregory Campbell, DUP, responded: "I suppose that everyone, both inside and outside the chamber, will unite in condemning all attacks, whomever they are enacted on and whoever carries them out.CHAR(13) + CHAR(10) CHAR(13) + CHAR(10)"Will the deputy First Minister not agree that his condemnation, unequivocal as it is, would carry more weight if he were to own up in an open and transparent manner to all the hate crimes that he engaged in when he was in the IRA?"Last month Mr McGuinness made similar comments when petrol bombs were thrown at the Alliance Party's constituency office on the Newtownards Road in east Belfast.He said the response from unionists to the actions of loyalist paramilitaries was "inadequate".The attack was condemned by parties from across the political spectrum.Police have recorded a 40% rise in the number of racist attacks taking place in the past year with the vast majority happening in Belfast.These have included attacks on a number of homes and assaults on individuals. In one instance a Romanian cyclist had faeces thrown at him on the Newtownards Road.In response the PSNI has established a special unit - 'Operation Orion' - to tackle hate crimes.


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