18 September 2003 Edition
Unionist paramilitaries intensify attacks
In the wake of the UDA campaign to drive Catholic residents from the Deerpark Road in North Belfast, unionist paramilitary activity has increased across the Six Counties. A group calling itself the Loyalist Action Force issued a death threat against Glengormley priest Fr Dan Whyte. The group is more than likely a bogus cover name for the UDA.
A journalist working for the North Belfast News has been told that he was under threat from the UDA and bombs were planted at Catholic schools in Dungiven in County Derry. On at least three occasions, Catholics have been lucky to escape with their lives from loyalist gangs.
And in an act of sickening sectarian hatred, Catholics attending a Blessing of the Graves devotion in Carnmoney were subjected to vicious barracking by up to 200 loyalists. Below is a list of the recent loyalist activity:
- A Catholic man is lucky to be alive after he was struck on the head with a hatchet by a gang of Shankill loyalists, as he walked home along Carrick Hill in the early hours of Sunday 7 September.
- On Wednesday 10 September loyalists daubed sectarian graffiti on the front of St Mary's Catholic chapel in Glengormley. The slogan KAT (Kill all Taigs) was painted across the doors of the church on the Carnmoney Road.
- In Derry last week, the UDA threatened to take action against what it described as 'known republicans' in the Waterside area. The warning was issued in a statement released by the Ulster Political Research Group and comes on the back of a press conference last month when the UPRG warned that the UDA ceasefire in Derry was coming under strain.
- On Thursday 11 September, loyalists attacked cars at the West Circular and Ballygomartin Roads in Belfast. A young driver, targeted for wearing a Celtic top, was assaulted and robbed but narrowly escaped being abducted. On Friday 12 September a car carrying three nationalists, one wearing a County Antrim GAA shirt, was attacked at the same traffic lights by around 20 to 30 loyalists, but they managed to escape unscathed.
- On Friday 12 September, members of the PSNI visited the offices of the North Belfast News to warn a journalist with the paper that his life is under threat from unionist paramilitaries. The journalist, who wishes to remain anonymous, said he would not be intimidated out of his job. The threat came as a result of the newspaper's decision to publish a photograph of the man named as the new North Belfast brigadier of the UDA.
- Just hours before Cemetery Sunday devotions at Carnmoney on Sunday 14 September, Glengormley priest Father Dan White was warned his life was under threat from the Loyalist Action Force, a cover name used by the UDA. During proceedings, loyalist protesters blew horns and whistles outside the gates in an attempt to disrupt the blessing of the graves ceremony.
- On Sunday 14 September, a number of Catholic graves were desecrated at St Patrick's Church cemetery, Ballyargan, in Scarva, County Down, the latest sectarian attack at a graveyard. Eight graves had headstones broken and flowers and wreaths were strewn about the grounds.
- On Sunday also, loyalists attacked Catholics homes in the Deerpark Road area of North Belfast for the third week running.
- British Army bomb disposal experts made safe two devices found at Catholic schools in Limavady and Dungiven on Monday 15 September. Unionist paramilitaries had left the devices at St Patrick's High School, Dungiven, and St Mary's High School in Limavady, just ten miles away. Both devices were found to contain explosives but no detonators.