20 May 1999 Edition
Loyalist terror mounts
More nationalists on death lists
There have been over 160 petrol, grenade and bomb attacks on nationalists since the Good Friday Agreement was signed. Republicans are increasingly being targeted by prominent loyalists. There is also evidence of increased loyalist activity (particularly UDA involvement in the killing of Rosemary Nelson) and of shifting alignments within loyalism. Clearly, loyalism is readying itself for all-out war.
``We are continually being told that the dissident groups who are carrying out the gun and bomb attacks pose little threat. If they pose little threat, how are they coming into possession of so many files on nationalists and republicans? Have RUC files gone missing again? In all probability these details are being leaked from the RIR or RUC,'' says Sinn Féin's Alex Maskey.
The disclosure on Wednesday 19 May that the RUC had a loyalist death list with the personal details of 150 nationalists and republicans yet withheld the information for almost three months before warning those named has again exposed the collusion that exists between the crown forces and loyalist killers.
Loyalist James Anderson was charged in a Belfast court on February 26 with possession of the list that included names, addreses, dates of birth, and car registrations of nationalists throughout Belfast.
However the RUC told one of those threatened that they couldn't warn people as the identity of another loyalist whom they hadn't charged would have become known.
Describing that excuse as ``a nonsense'', Sinn Féin's Alex Maskey said ``this man was charged on 26 February. This was prior to Rosemary Nelson's murder. Was her name on this list? If any of those named on this hit list had been killed, would the RUC have admitted they were aware that the individual was under threat?''
One of those warned at the weekend was the brother of Pat Finucane. The RUC went to his West Belfast home just days after Ulster Unionist MP and former UDR man Ken Maginnis identified the Finucane family as a leading republican family.
The Finucane family have since cancelled a meeting with David Trimble in protest at Maginnis's deliberate and malicious behaviour.
Said Bairbre de Brún: ``We are well used to the RUC colluding in many ways with loyalists, but the scale and blatant nature of this case requires the personal intervention of Mo Mowlam. She needs to explain to the public why the RUC withheld this information and what measures she is now taking to ensure that not only that this cannot be repeated but that those under threat are protected and receive the maximum information from the RUC so that they can protect themselves.''
Against this background, there is the rising tide of loyalist violence. The latest sectarian incident, a petrol bomb attack in Hampton Crescent on the Antiville estate in Larne in the early hours of Tuesday morning, comes as it has emerged that 44 families from the Larne area have been forced from their homes. This petrol bomb attack is the third in as many months on the Antiville estate and the fourth attack on members of the McDonald family. It comes a week after the attempted murder of a Catholic man in nearby Carrickfergus and another petrol bomb attack on the Parkhill estate in Antrim. There have also been attacks on the Ramble Inn, McNally's bar, the Barley Corn and McKenna's bar, all in the Antrim area.
One Larne nationalist told An Phoblacht that there is, ``the belief that someone will be killed soon''. The Larne resident added that the recent acquittal of a Glenarm man who had his hand blown off while throwing a pipe-bomb had sent a clear message to loyalists that they could act with impunity.
Meanwhile, the recent upsurge in loyalist attacks in the traditional UDA stronghold of Dunmurray on the outskirts of Belfast has claimed more casualties. Last week a Catholic family, the McGlones, were forced out of their Dunmurry pub, the Motte `n' Bailey, after a mob of up to 60 loyalists rampaged through the bar in the early hours of last Friday week while staff were cleaning up. It was the second attack in less than a week and followed two arson attacks on the bar.
Sinn Féin councillor Paul Butler put the attacks in context.
``The nationalist population is expanding from West Belfast to the outskirts of Dunmurray, a traditionally loyalist stronghold.'' There have also been sectarian attacks on Catholics in Milford Avenue, two Catholic families have been forced to leave Salisbury Place and a third family have their house up for sale. The area is littered with sectarian graffiti, tyres of Catholics are routinely slashed and Catholic businesses forced to shut down.
Sinn Féin Councillor Sean Hayes has appealed to unionist and community leaders on the Taughmonagh estate in the Finaghy Crossroads area of Belfast to stop gangs of loyalists from engaging in sectarian attacks on nationalists. He said that during a recent canvas with EU election candidate Mitchel McLaughlin in Finaghy that ``door after door people were telling us they were concerned for the safety of their children, especially given the increase in local attacks, the upcoming marching season and the situation in nearby Dunmurry''.
On top of these focused attacks on nationalist communities in Antrim and the recent double murder attempt on two North Belfast children, there were sectarian attacks in Armagh.
On Tuesday night, loyalists rioted with the RUC, overturning a landrover and throwing petrol bombs after they pararded along the Corcrain Road.
Alex Maskey has also warned republicans to be on the alert after reports of loyalist activity in West Belfast. Last week, four loyalists were seen outside the home of a senior republican in Andersonstown in West Belfast. There have been sightings reported at Conway Mill, Connolly House and Twin Spires, all areas where Sinn Féin has advice centres. A well known loyalist was spotted outside a resource centre on the Whiterock Road. Loyalists were also frightened off by car park staff at the Whiterock Leisure Centre.
Leading members of the UDA have also been seen outside the homes of republicans in the Short Strand in East Belfast and in Ardoyne in North Belfast.
The Sinn Féin President has warned that ``loyalist death squads, some of them from the LVF and UDA, are currently targeting republicans. I am also told by unionist sources that the UDA was involved in the killing of Rosemary Nelson.''
Adams added, ``the current attacks are not isolated individual attacks but part of a planned orchestrated campaign of intimidation and murder. The LVF are very definitely involved. They are also using some of the grenades brought in by Brian Nelson as part of a British intelligence shipment. The LVF and UDA involvement in these attacks makes nonsense of the claims that they are on ceasefire.''