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22 May 2003 Edition

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Young Catholic mother warned of sectarian attack

A 20-year-old Catholic mother has been warned by the PSNI that unionist paramilitaries have plans to burn her out of her Tandragee Road home in Portadown.

The young women, who is too terrified to be identified, and her 18-month-old son are now living with relatives after the PSNI warned her on Friday 9 May of an imminent attack on her home.

A confidential letter delivered to the woman by members of the PSNI said they were in receipt of information that suggested she was going to be "burnt out" because she is a Catholic.

A sister of woman said she fears for her life after the threat: "She is afraid to move and live somewhere else in case these people find her. She is in a state of shock at these sectarian threats against her and her young son."

Sinn Féin's Dara O'Hagan said this latest sectarian threat was a worrying development, "particularly in the Portadown area, which is already blighted by sectarian attacks directed against nationalists.

"This is a terrifying experience for anybody to have to go through, especially given the current political climate and the fact we are into the run up to the marching season in Portadown and the Six Counties and all the tensions associated with it."


Attacked because we are Catholics



A Catholic couple say an attack on their home in the predominantly unionist village of Drumahoe near Derry City was sectarian.

The couple and their ten-day-old baby were asleep in the Old School Field estate when their home was attacked by loyalists with paint bombs and stones at around 2.10 am on Tuesday 13 May.

A downstairs window was broken during the attack.

The woman said her partner was seen wearing a Republic of Ireland football top, which she thinks prompted the sectarian attack on their home.

The woman described the attackers as cowards and she will not be intimidated out of her home.


UVF coup installs new leadership in Derry



Fears of a serious feud within the ranks of the Ulster Volunteer Force in Derry have abated, according to Progressive Unionist Party spokesperson Billy Hutchinson.

Reports at the weekend that up to ten loyalist families were forced to flee their homes in UVF strongholds in the Waterside area of Derry in the past week came as fears of a full blown feud was about to erupt in the city.

Divisions emerged in the UVF in Derry and the loyalist leadership moved quickly to get rid the local leadership after it emerged that a row developed over the proceeds of UVF robberies.

There was concern among UVF leaders in Derry that proceeds from robberies had not been passed to the organisation but instead had gone into the pockets of individual members of the UVF.

It was reported on Friday 16 May that six men were arrested in connection with the feud after members of the PSNI swooped on houses in the Lincoln Courts, Nelson Drive and Irish Street in the Waterside area.

Hutchinson says he has been given assurances that the dispute within the leadership of the UVF in Derry has ended after a new regional leadership had been imposed on the Waterside UVF by the paramilitary leadership in Belfast.

Meanwhile, UVF members from North Belfast and South Antrim were behind the kidnapping of a father and his 11-year-old son in the early hours of Thursday 15 May from their home in Greenisland on the outskirts of North Belfast.

The child was bundled into the boot of the family's car, where he remained for nine hours while his father was driven to a house where he was burnt with cigarettes and beaten by the loyalist gang.

The man was released in Carrickfergus and ordered to bring a £30,000 ransom to nearby Newtownabbey four hours later.

When the man arrived at Ballyduff Brae in Newtownabbey, he was met by a man on a motor bike who took the money and gave the man the keys to his own car. The man was instructed to go to Knockagh Monument, where he discovered his son locked in the boot of a second car.

It has also been reported that the UVF were behind the extortion of £10,000 from a Chinese businessman, when two men appeared before Belfast's Magistrate court on Monday 19 May.

Thomas Spence, 37, from Posnett Court and William Alexander Robinson, 40, from Killaney Avenue in Lisburn, were accused of demanding money with menaces and inviting the businessman to hand over the money 'for purposes of terrorism'.

A PSNI detective told the court he believed the money was being collected on behalf of the UVF and that the businessman had been forced to hand over money on three previous occasions.

The pair were remanded in custody to appear via video link on 16 June.



Right-wing group recruiting



The right wing White Nationalist Party (WNP) is targeting Ballymoney County Antrim in a huge recruitment campaign aimed at getting people from the mainly unionist town to join up.

The right-wing political grouping has pasting stickers on lamp posts around the town with a telephone contact number and the words "Ulster is forever British. Hang IRA scum".

A spokesperson for the group confirmed that most of the WNP members are ex-British Nationalist Party members who are disgusted at that party's allegedly softening attitudes towards gays, race issues, asylum seekers and lack of street activity.


Attempt to recruit informer



A West Belfast businessman who has been targeted by Special Branch to become an informer says he now feels frightened after his experience in PSNI custody at Lisnasharragh PSNI barracks in East Belfast on Friday 9 May.

The man, whose premises had been raided in connection with last year's raids on Stormont, had gone to the PSNI barracks to confirm that invoices taken from his accountants office belonged to him when the Special Branch men made their approach.

The man said he was approached by two men, one of whom spoke with an English accent, who threatened him saying: "I can tell you now you are going to get a custodial sentence."

The West Belfast man, who wishes to remain anonymous, said PSNI members came to him because his business had supplied some equipment that had been seized as part of the alleged spy ring and that invoices which were at his accountant's office were also taken.

He was asked to come to Lisnasharragh PSNI barracks to check if they had got the right invoices.

"When I got there, a PSNI member showed me with some invoices which I confirmed were mine, then he told me two other men wanted to have a word with me."

The PSNI member left the room and two other men, one with an English accent and the other with a Northern accent, came into the room and introduced themselves as Tim and Steve. They told the man they knew everything about his private life, his business plans and his future business plans.

They told the man that he had only had a short time left to consider forming a long-term relationship with them, and that they knew he was not interested in money but they had the resources to help him in many ways.

"When they told me that I got really frightened and stared at the table, but then Tim said he knew I was going to get a custodial sentence," said the man.

He said he had cooperated with the PSNI throughout the investigation and had not been charged or cautioned with anything.

"I honestly thought this was a thing of the past, when those who make the law break the law then there is no law," said the man.

Sinn Féin councillor Fra McCann said the incident shows that for the British securocrats, the war is not over. "Clearly for these people the war is not over, with the disclosure of the attempted recruitment of this man and coming in the same week that we have learned that British Intelligence colluded with loyalist killer Michael Stone and the UVF."


PSNI u-turn on school



Sinn Féin has accused the PSNI of interfering with the relocation of Bunscoil Bheann Mhadagain in North Belfast after they reversed their previous position on the school issue at a meeting of Belfast City Council's Parks Sub Committee on Friday 9 May.

In August, the PSNI wrote to Belfast Planning Office stating it offered no objection to the relocation of the school, but at the recent council subcommittee meeting the PSNI objected on the grounds that the new location would create a new interface in North Belfast.

Sinn Féin Councillor Margaret McClenaghan, speaking to An Phoblacht, said it defies logic for the PSNI to object to the siting of the new school as "at present it sits on an interface and it has been attacked by loyalists on numerous occasions.

"The PSNI are playing sectarian games with children's education. The interference by the PSNI and the one-sidedness ingrained in its objections to this issue is unacceptable."

At a meeting in Belfast City Hall on Tuesday 20 May, nationalists put forward a motion calling for the decision to be deferred to a full meeting of the Parks Committee, but again unionist councillors voted on bloc to defeat the motion.

McClenaghan accused unionist councillors of sectarianism: "They don't want an Irish language school in the area."
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