29 June 2006 Edition
Serious injuries sustained in loyalist attacks
The family of a 14-year-old-girl assaulted by a 30-strong loyalist mob in the Waterside area of Derry on Saturday, 24 June have vowed to leave the Clooney house which was home to four generations of the Hegarty family.
The assault on the schoolgirl came as news emerged that loyalist gangs had left three nationalists with broken limbs and a fractured skull in a series of attacks at the Fountain Estate interface. Two of the attacks were also carried out on Saturday, 24 June while the third happened two weeks ago.
Speaking to the media after the incident involving her daughter Catherine Hegarty told of how she has finally decided to move out of her Clooney home.
Ms Hegarty explained how the schoolgirl was chased by the loyalists who taunted the child calling her a "Fenian Bitch".
The gang chased the girl across a field and cornered her, near the Waterside Health centre, while one of the youths repeatedly punched her about the head.
Ms Hegarty said she called her daughter's mobile phone and heard screaming and crying.
"I found out where she was and my husband and I ran to look for her. When I got to the health centre I saw the 30 youths standing round her, one was punching her on the head".
The gang fled, hurling sectarian abuse, when the Hegarty's came on the scene.
"Hearing her screaming on the phone was one of the most terrifying experiences of my life. I can't believe they picked on her. The whole thing is sickening. We're moving, this is the last straw", said the distraught mother.
Meanwhile three nationalist men suffered serious injuries at the hands of loyalist gangs operating from the Fountain estate in Derry.
A series of separate attacks, over the past two weeks, saw the men suffer broken limbs and a fractured skull at the Bishop Street interface.
In two attacks on Saturday 24 June a 38 year old Catholic man suffered a broken arm when he was set upon by a gang armed with baseball bats.
Earlier that night a man had his skull fractured after a blow from a golf club. In both instances the perpetrators fled into the loyalist Fountain Estate through a gate on the old Derry Walls
Two weeks ago, at the same spot, a third Catholic man received a broken arm and leg after being assaulted by loyalists armed with baseball bats.
In the aftermath of last Saturday's incidents the PSNI moved to close the gate between the Fountain Estate and Bishop Street.
Criticising the move as, "belated", Sinn Féin councillor Peter Anderson said, "the attacks were obviously orchestrated as the perpetrators brought weapons with them. This is an attempt by loyalists to create tensions in the area".
Anderson described how, "nationalists, following an upsurge in sectarian attacks on the Fountain at the start of the year, had established a series of night time patrols aimed at reducing tension. This was largely successful, however these latest actions by loyalists will make our work a lot harder".