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21 January 1999 Edition

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Sectarian blast bomb attack

by Laura Friel

A Catholic man was injured in the fifth sectarian attack to be claimed by a loyalist grouping calling itself the Orange Volunteers. The man was injured when a blast bomb placed at the rear of his isolated Loughinisland home in Co Down exploded shortly after 9.30pm on Tuesday night.

47-year-old Patsy Shields was making a cup of tea in his kitchen when the blast bomb, which was placed at the back door, exploded. All the windows at the back of the house were shattered. The injured man was taken to hospital after sustaining injuries to a hand and the lower part of his body. His condition is said not to be life threatening. His wife, who was also in the kitchen when the blast bomb exploded, escaped injury.

This is the second time loyalists have targeted Patsy Shields within the last fortnight. A grenade was thrown at his car as he was travelling along the Newcastle/Ballynahinch Road. ``It bounced off the windscreen before exploding,'' said Patsy, who reported the attack to his solicitor.

In the past Patsy Shields has been the target for persistent crown force harassment. He believes the fact that he is now being targeted by loyalists is connected to a pending case of assault against the RIR and RUC. ``The case is due to be heard in the next two weeks,'' said Patsy. Describing himself as ``totally shocked'' by the attack, Patsy said he believed it to be the work of a faction of the LVF.

Sinn Fein Assembly member, Mick Murphy described the bombing as ``blatantly sectarian''. The attack took place just a short distance from the village pub where six people were murdered by the UVF in a sectarian gun attack in 1994. The Loughinisland bombing by the Orange Volunteers follows a similar sectarian attack at a GAA club in Magherafelt two weeks ago. A workman was injured when a blast bomb exploded as he carried out renovation at the club's premises. A number of sectarian attacks over the Christmas, New Year season were carried out by the same group.

Meanwhile, a Derryman had a lucky escape in the early hours of last Sunday when a petrol bomb was fired through a window of his Waterside home and inflammable liquid poured through his letterbox. 28-year-old Stephen Hayden has lived in the predominantly Protestant Clooney estate all of his life. The young Catholic man was asleep upstairs when he was woken by noise outside his home. He went downstairs to find black smoke and the front door on fire. A man wearing a ski mask was seen leaving the area. Local Sinn Fein representative Lynn Fleming confirmed that the attack was sectarian. ``This is the old agenda of loyalist domination through terror,'' said Fleming.

The American partner of LVF victim Fergal McCusker has said she is ``bitter'' that a year after the murder of her fiancee no one has been charged. Fergal McCusker (28) from Maghera was dragged into an alleyway besides St Mary's Catholic church and shot dead by the LVF in January 1998. Fergal was one of twelve nationalists to be killed by loyalists over the Christmas and New Year period a year ago. The young man, who had returned from America only two weeks periously, was shot dead just a few hundred yards from the local RUC barracks and within sight of surveillance cameras. Despite the clear sound of gunfire and several emergency telephone calls from nearby residents, the RUC remained in their barracks and only appeared at the scene of the killing after the body of Fergal McCusker was discovered by a church caretaker around eight hours later.
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