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13 May 1999 Edition

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Loyalist terror fills political vacuum

In the latest of a string of loyalist attacks, which appear to be seriously escalating as the year progresses, a 39-year-old Catholic workman was shot and wounded in a loyalist murder bid on Wednesday, 12 May.

The man is today recovering in Belfast's Mater hospital after two loyalist gunmen shot him in the chest and legs at around 8am as he went to work in Carrickfergus, County Antrim.

This latest sectarian murder bid occurred on the Protestant Castlemar estate, which is adorned with loyalist graffiti. The Catholic man, who works for a Magherafelt contracting firm, had been carrying out building renovations in the area for almost a year.

After the shooting, the two loyalist gunmen made their getaway on foot before driving away in a blue Volvo that was later found burnt out in the loyalist Glenfield estate.

Sinn Féin party chairperson Mitchel McLaughlin, criticising the shooting, said: ``This follows a long-standing pattern of loyalist death squads attacking Catholic men working on loyalist estates.

``The East Antrim area,'' he added, ``has in recent times become a particular focus for sectarian attacks on Catholics. In one area in Larne alone, over 40 Catholic families have been intimidated from their homes. The lack of response to this campaign from unionist leaders is disappointing. The path to undermining these sectarian gangs is through the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement and the creation of the political conditions where people can live free from such sectarian attacks.

 

Catholics escape murder attacks



A Catholic man and a Catholic family have narrowly escaped death in two separate incidents in Antrim and Armagh.

The first incident occurred around 1am on Monday, 10 May when a petrol bomb was thrown through the bedroom window of a flat on Kilgreel Road in the Parkhall estate.

The resident, who escaped through a back window, was uninjured but his home suffered extensive damage. The man's next door neighbour's car was also petrol bombed.

One Catholic resident of the estate said: ``Catholics here are constantly intimidated. I am very concerned for my children and I wake up every night waiting for it to happen to me''.

The second attack occurred after 11pm on Sunday, 9 May, when a petrol bomb was thrown through the window of a Catholic families home in Edenaveys Crescent, off the Newry Road in Armagh. The small estate, which consists of 50 to 60 houses, used to be about 50% Catholic and 50% Protestant. However, most Catholics have now been intimidated out of the area, which is adorned by sectarian UVF/UFF/RHD bunting.

 

Under the shadow of loyalist attack



by Laura Friel

The loyalist attack on two schoolboys in North Belfast came as news emerged that over 100 people in Ardoyne have been informed by the RUC that their lives are in danger and that their details are in the hands of loyalist death squads. The number of threats being issued came to light after one solicitor's office confirmed that they had dealt with over 100 cases from the Ardoyne area since January.

``This figure does not include all the people who have been issued with threats,'' says local councillor Mick Conlon, ``for example, it excludes 35 taxi drivers from one taxi depot in Ardoyne who were all recently informed by the RUC that their lives were in danger from loyalists.'' As Conlon points out, not everyone would use the same solicitor. This figure relates only to one particular office.

Mick Conlon is critical of the lack of adequate provision for people who have been informed by the RUC that their lives are in danger. ``The DHSS provides a one-off payment of £100,'' says Mick, ``yet the average cost of securing a house is estimated as in excess of £1,000.''

The DHSS payment is not available to all low-income families under threat. For example, someone claiming incapacity benefit would not qualify for any payment, let alone those employed in low-paid work. ``It's woefully inadequate,'' says Mick,'' there needs to be a scheme in operation similar to the RUC's key person scheme, which provides the proper financing of security needs.''

The neglect of nationalists living in fear of loyalist attack feeds nationalist perceptions that they remain expendable, Britain's collateral damage within the peace process.

``Every day, different facets of the same threat are visited on this community,'' says Mick. The day after the attempt to kill two local schoolboys, the RUC raided homes in Ardoyne. They were actually raiding at the same time as they were conducting door to door inquiries into the attack. ``RUC attacking nationalist homes, RUC issuing threats from loyalists, RUC collusion with loyalists carrying out those threats and subsequent cover ups,'' lists Mick. ``It's a vicious circle which, if the peace process means anything, must be broken.''

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