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6 October 2005 Edition

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Sectarian nightmare explained to TDs

A delegation of beleaguered North Antrim residents was at Leinster House this week

Residents of isolated nationalist communities in North Antrim travelled to Dublin on Wednesday 5 October where they met with the leaders and representatives of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, Progressive Democrats, Labour Party, Greens and Independents at Leinster House.

For many months now these communities have been at the receiving end of a vicious sectarian campaign with daily attacks on nationalist homes, schools and churches. They delegation was in Dublin to seek cross-party support to bring these attacks to an end. The delegation included Sinn Féin Councillors Philip McGuigan MLA and Monica Digney, Kathleen McCaughey, a former resident in Ahoghill and Dominic Kearns.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD welcomed the delegation at a press briefing outside Leinster House. "All members of the Oireachtas have been invited to meet the delegation and learn from those directly experiencing sectarian attacks on a daily basis in North Antrim. We are hoping that there will be a representative number from all parties and the Independents here today to listen to the accounts and the testimonies of the representative voices here in Dublin."

Speaking to the media Philip McGuigan described the series of attacks against isolated nationalists by the UDA and the UVF, involving pipe bombs, paint bombs, stones and sectarian graffiti on nationalist homes, property, as well as Catholic churches and schools.

At least ten families have been forced to flee the village of Ahoghill, including Kathleen McCaughey who lived there for 51 years before she was forced out of her home in July following sustained attacks since the previous April. "I've had my front door kicked in, my grandchildren threatened with being shot dead, given 48 hours to get out, they broke all my windows, they paint-bombed me, petrol-bombed me and more paint bombs. As far as I'm concerned it was the UDA. The police and all the neighbours know who is responsible", she said.

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