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20 November 1997 Edition

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North Belfast sectarian attacks continue

By Stephen Delaney.

Loyalists were again on the rampage last Sunday 16 November when a gang from the Tigers Bay area of North Belfast invaded the grounds of the Holy Family Church on the Limestone Road during 12.30 mass and damaged the vehicles of massgoers then chased young parishioners out of the church grounds into nearby Clanchattan Street. The young boys escaped, however, when the gang decided to attack nearby Catholic homes.

In one attack, 26 year old Madeline McGrath was hit on the head by a full brick after, as she explained, ``one of the gang looked me straight in the eye, smiled and lobbed the brick through the living room window''. Ms McGrath was rushed to the Mater hospital where she received six staples to a head wound.

Mark McGrath, Madeline's husband, said his two year old son could have been killed as he was in his mothers arm's minutes before the attack. He continued, ``I am very upset. I feel that the police are not doing enough to protect this area. I am shocked that a man could watch a woman standing by the window and deliberately hurt her''.

The RUC were on the scene immediately yet, say residents, they sat back and watched as the disturbances continuing for over half an hour.

 


In the early hours of Monday morning in another notorious North Belfast flashpoint, Rosapenna Street in the Oldpark area, loyalists attacked the home of 60 year old Martha Hickey. Despite smashing all the downstairs windows they were unable to enter the house. Traces of blood at the scene indicate at least one person was injured while doing so.

The arthritic pensioner said she was terrified by the attack. ``I was in the house on my own. I went to bed just after 1 o'clock, I heard the smashing. After the attackers left, I went downstairs and all four windows were smashed and my front door had been hammered in''. This is the second sectarian attack on Mrs Hickey's home this year. ``I used to live in another house on this street, it was attacked 5 times, now the first two houses on this street have security grilles and I'm the first one that doesn't. In the last attack it took the Housing Executive six weeks to replace the windows,'' she said.

Sinn Fein councillor for the area Mick Conlon was also critical of the Housing Executive, accusing them of not treating their tenants equally. He said, ``when windows in the loyalist Lower Oldpark were broken earlier in the year the executive decided within two days to install solid doors, reinforced glass, fire blankets and ladders at the rear as an escape method.. Why not go the whole way and give everyone equal status?''
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