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3 September 1998 Edition

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Portadown loyalists on rampage

A 200 strong mob of loyalists rampaged through a Portadown town centre shopping mall on Saturday 29 August, shouting `Fenians get out - this is Ulster' and attacking weekend shoppers, including a relative of murdered Portadown nationalist Robert Hamill. Earlier they had blocked traffic and distributed leaflets.

The mob turned on the woman, a cousin of Mr Hamill, who was with the murdered man on the night last April when he was beaten by loyalists. They shouted `Robert Hamill, Robert Hamill' and assaulted her. After being admitted to hospital with cuts and bruises to her arms and legs, the woman told the media, ``I felt history was repeating itself.''

The woman said her sister had approached RUC men outside the shopping centre and asked them to intervene, but that they failed to respond. The cousin said, ``there were [RUC men] in boiler suits as if they were waiting for something to happen but they did nothing to assist us. I can't understand how so many loyalists can come into town, march through the mall verbally abusing customers and get away with it.''

According to eyewitnesses, the loyalist mob gathered in the town at about 2pm but was not dispersed by the RUC until after 3.30pm.

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