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30 July 1998 Edition

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Tension and fear in Derry

An uncharacteristic tension and fear mounted in Derry this week. Hot on the heels of the UDA murder attempt on two quiet Catholic brothers living in a mixed estate in the Waterside, a prominent loyalist issued a blunt warning that he could not guarantee the safety of Catholics who continued to live in mixed estates in the Waterside. Both events are seen as blatant threats to the nationalist community that worse is to come unless nationalists back down from insisting that Apprentice Boys speak to local residents over the August 8 march which effectively shuts down the city for a day.

News that last week's meeting of the Civic Forum will not re-convene until August 8th, the very day of the Apprentice Boys march shatters any slim hope created when this body met last week.

Minimal progress was made when loyal orders and Unionist politicians finally met in the same room with representatives of the rest of the city, including the Bogside Residents Group. Direct dialogue was not engaged in, however, and the meeting was inconclusive. Donncha MacNiallais expressed grave concern about this development.

Last week it was proposed that, as it would be impossible to discuss matters effectively with 130 members of any group, two working groups be set up, one to look at parades and the other at Protestant alienation, which would report back to the larger group with proposals. It appears however that the loyal orders are not prepared to participate in these working groups, and will not meet again before 8 August.

Donncha MacNiallais renewed his appeal on behalf of the residents that talks be entered into. Meanwhile, in the face of continued opposition by the loyal orders to negotiations, the Bogside Residents Group have applied to hold a protest at the Diamond on 8 August.

 

Derry murder bid



Shortly after midnight on Sunday, gunmen wearing balaclavas burst into the home of Anthony and Francis Creane at Garvagh Court, Caw, Waterside as the two brothers sat watching the all-Ireland hurling quarter finals.

Frankie Creane, 58, grabbed for a club which one of the loyalists held. During the struggle which ensued another loyalist put a gun to his temple. Just before the trigger was pulled, Creane managed to duck his head, narrowly cheating instant death.

Frankie Creane was shot in the leg while another gunman rushed into another room to shoot Anthony Creane, 53, three times in the upper legs and groin, before making a getaway.

By the time the brothers arrived at nearby Altnagelvin Hospital.Anthony Creane had to resuscitated and then transferred to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast where he remains in critical condition in the Intensive Care Unit following lengthy surgery.

Appealing for no retaliation for this attack, niece Jackie Lyon said she didn't understand why her uncles had been singled out, as they were quiet men who were totally uninvolved with anything religious or political. ``You never expect it to come to your own door'', she said adding that her uncles did not plan to return to their home.

Extending sympathy and support to the Creane family, SF Deputy Mayor Lynn Fleming said: ``Last night's attack would appear to be the work of loyalists and the RUC should state publicly which organisation they believe to be responsible.

``Catholic families living in mixed estates in the Waterside have long been targeted for harassment, intimidation and violence. I would appeal to unionist leaders in the city to use their influence to bring such sectarian attacks to an immediate end.''

This Derry bid bore the hallmarks of others organised by The Committee overseeing the loyalist assassination campaign for the past number of years- no crown forces were seen in the area during or after the shooting until ample time for a successful getaway, despite the near-by Lisnagelvin RUC Barracks. No one has been arrested for the shooting.

On the day after the attack in the Waterside UDP Chairperson David Nicholl warned that Catholics put their lives at risk by living in such areas. Declining to comment on whether the UDA was responsible for shooting the brothers, Nicholl said: ``I am very concerned about Catholics living in mixed communities in the Waterside. I have to urge them to consider these grave threats with due seriousness. I can't guarantee their future well-being.

This grim Get Out or Die message by the leader of an organisation seen as speaking for the UDA, is directly linked to the Drumcree campaign and the coming 8 August Apprentice Boys march.

Against the backdrop of the three children murdered in Ballymoney, it is once again clear that Catholics in vulnerable areas will be held hostage against nationalists elsewhere standing up for their basic civil rights.

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