31 March 2008

Neo-Nazi thugs involved in throat slashing

ENGLISH neo-Nazi thugs were among the loyalist mob who slashed the throat of a Celtic fan at the weekend, eyewitnesses have claimed.

Violence erupted on Saturday at the junction of Castle Street and King Street at around 3.30pm involving a mob of up to 70 Linfield fans returning from the day's Irish Cup semi-final clash with Cliftonville at The Oval.

The 32-year-old Celtic supporter was pummeled and had his throat slashed during the trouble, and today remained in a critical condition at the Royal Victoria Hospital. A number of other people were also injured by bricks, bottles and stones hurled during the rioting.

Eyewitnesses in Castle Street - a mainly nationalist thoroughfare - said the Linfield supporters alighted from a bus and rushed towards the area. Onlookers today reported some of them were wearing neo-Nazi gear.

At first the crowd tried to get into the Belfast Bar at the junction of Castle Street and King Street, but were repelled by up to 100 customers who had been watching the Celtic-Rangers Old Firm match on television.

One witness said: "It was after the Linfield crowd were beaten back from the bar that they singled out a guy in King Street. They knew he was Catholic because of his Celtic shirt."

And Superintendent Mark Purden told the Nolan show police were aware of men dressed head-to-toe in black roaming the city before the violence. They were monitored by the PSNI CCTV hub in Belfast, and when they saw the gang begin to attack, they tasked officers just after 3.30pm. He admitted police were aware of claims they were neo-Nazis.

One eyewitnesses told the show: "The men tried to get into the bar at first, and one was carrying an extendable baton. Another had a pair of knuckle-dusters and were chanting, 'Combat 18'."

Up to eight PSNI jeeps were still patrolling the area late on Sunday afternoon.

Leading Sinn Fein figures, including a former Lord Mayor of Belfast, Alex Maskey, and Bobby Storey, a former IRA prisoner and confidant of Gerry Adams, arrived at the scene shortly after to calm rising tensions.

Eyewitnesses told the BBC's Stephen Nolan show this morning they had seen attackers

The victim's father-in-law, who revealed his injuries were horrific, said he was "just in the wrong place at the wrong time".

"He was on a life-support machine we just didn't know if he was going to live or die for a time," he said. His throat has been cut, his face has been badly beaten, he has head injuries with stitches on his nose and is very badly bruised. He wasn't breathing when he arrived at hospital, and is very heavily sedated."

Mr Rodgers has called for more police patrols in the city centre in a bid to cut crime. He said: "It saddens me when this type of awful activity occurs in this tremendous city of ours. My thoughts and prayers are with the young man who is in hospital fighting for his life. I hope he makes a speedy recovery.

"I welcome the police response to this appalling incident but I just think that there could've been more officers on the ground on Saturday.

"The issue of policing in the city centre is something which concerns me and I intend to speak to senior officers about this shocking incident which has brought shame to our city. These thugs are not real football fans and they have simply undermined all the good work that we have been doing to promote the city.

"What sort of message does this send to people hoping to visit the city? We need to learn from this incident and I just hope the city doesn't lose its reputation as one of the safest cities in the UK."

Initial reports claimed that the trouble was between fans of Cliftonville and Linfield but this was later denied by a Reds' spokesman.

"Cliftonville Football Club wish to point out that from information received from the PSNI and other sources, that our supporters were not involved in this incident," said the spokesman.

Linfield bosses have been keen to distance themselves from rumours club supporters were involved in the attack.

It has been condemned by IFA President Raymond Kennedy, who said there was no place in football for those involved.

West Belfast SDLP representative Margaret Walsh called on the Irish Football Association (IFA) to investigate the disturbances.

She added: "I would also call on the Irish Football Association to investigate the matter in order to establish if the culprits were Linfield fans. Communities cannot accept this type of behaviour and sport should not be used as an excuse to carry out violent acts."

Meanwhile, IFA head of Community Relations, Michael Boyd, has hit out at death threat made to Cliftonville manager Eddie Patterson. He added: "The whole football family in Northern Ireland is united in support for Eddie Patterson and his family at this time.

"Eddie Patterson's commitment as a coach, manager and role model promoting positive community relations through football is well known by football people across Northern Ireland."

Belfast News Letter

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Fuck the BNP/Combat 18 scum who slashed the throat of the Celtic supporter because he was Catholic or Irish. Fuck all the nazi scum. The BNP should be kicked out of Scotland just for this.