4 September 2003 Edition
Loyalists attack GAA supporters
An Armagh family had a lucky escape when their car was attacked with stones by loyalists on Sunday evening last as they returned from watching their team win the All-Ireland football semi-final against Donegal in Dublin.
The family from Lurgan were stopped at traffic lights in the Malcolm Road area of the town when their car was stoned by a group of loyalists.
The woman, who does not wish to be named, was in the car with her six-year-old son, her parents and her sister.
"My son was petrified," she said. "He kept asking me why they threw stones at us. I told him I didn't know. He asked if they were they from a different county, I told him they were from the same county then he wanted to know why they did not support their county like everyone else. All I could say was I didn't know."
The woman said she had stopped before reaching Banbridge and removed orange and white flags from her car in the hope of evading any attention, but all to no benefit.
A number of other cars, many carrying families with young children, were also damaged in the sectarian onslaught.
Sinn Féin's former Upper Bann representative Dara O'Hagan accused loyalists of trying to inflict serious injury on GAA fans travelling home to Lurgan.
O'Hagan told An Phoblacht that the attacks were orchestrated as the perpetrators know that supporters returning to Lurgan must travel through the Malcolm Road area.
O'Hagan said the silence from unionist political and community leaders in relation to such attacks hasn't gone unnoticed by nationalists.
"I would challenge those with influence in the unionist community to condemn these attacks and then to proceed to use their influence in a manner that will ensure there will be no repeat of the bitter display of sectarianism directed at GAA fans in Lurgan on Sunday," she said.
Drugs imported by LVF gang seized in Ballyclare
A 39-year-old man appeared at Belfast Magistrates Court on Monday 1 September charged in connection with the weekend seizure of £1 million worth of drugs imported by unionist paramilitaries.
Paul Hughes from Marian Park, Ballykinler in County Down, was charged with possessing 120,000 Ecstacy tablets with a street value of £1.2 million and having them with intent to supply after they were found in the cab of a vehicle in Ballyclare, County Antrim.
A member of the PSNI told the court the drugs were destined for the LVF, who intended to distribute them throughout the Mid Ulster area.
It also emerged in court that a member of the gang being sought in connection with the find has fled to Spain.
Resident magistrate Geoff Millar granted Hughes personal bail of £1,000 plus two £5,000 sureties on condition he continues to reside in his family home and reports to Downpatrick PSNI every day.
Hughes was released to appear in court again on 8 September.