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4 November 1999 Edition

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Narrow escape for family

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has described a bomb attack on the home of leading Belfast republican Liam Shannon as a ``transparent attempt to wreck the peace process''.

Last Wednesday's attack on the Shannon home could have wiped out the entire family, as the ten-inch pipe bomb used was strapped to a container of petrol and had six-inch nails taped to it.

Had the bomb, which was placed underneath the window of the house, exploded, it would have engulfed the house in flames.

In an attempt to inflict as much injury as possible, the bombers placed what the RUC described as a secondary device across from the Shannon home. ``This was designed to prevent the emergency services reaching the house had the bomb gone off,'' said Shannon, who is the chairperson of the Irish Republican Felons Association and a prominent member of the National Graves Association. He has been the subject of a campaign of harassment by members of the RUC.

One senior officer, previously over the West Belfast area, pursued a vendetta against the Felons Club, having it raided on a regular basis. Shannon was subsequently charged as a result of this harassment. Several years ago, the RUC visited Liam Shannon to tell him his files were in the hands of loyalists, but what is more worrying about the attack is that the Shannon home is overlooked by the British army base on top of the Broadway nurses' home.

An example of the degree of surveillance that the area and Shannon's street in particular is under is underlined by the story he relates about how a neighbour, a couple of years ago, received a phone call from the RUC, warning him that an intruder was breaking into his house by the front window. The intruder had been spotted from the Broadway post.

``You can see everything from that post and just over a year ago the British army put in cameras there, directed over the La Salle area,'' said Shannon.

It was last Wednesday night, coming up to 12 midnight, when Liam Shannon arrived home with his wife. The house was empty. Often the Shannon's grandchildren would stay over at the weekend.

As Mrs Shannon got out of the car to open the gate to allow Liam drive the car into the garage, she spotted a white bag underneath the window of their home. Liam Shannon, on examining the bag, saw the lethal-looking device. He immediately called the RUC, who took 25 minutes to arrive on the scene.

``This bomb was a particularly deadly one, so I would urge all nationalists to be on their guard, be very vigilant'', said Shannon.

 

Loyalist attack in Bushmills



By Padraig MacDabhaid

A COUPLE in a mixed religion marriage have been targeted by loyalists, for the second time in 12 months, in an arson attack at their home in the North Antrim village of Bushmills.

The attack took place at the home of the McCluskey family on Dunluce Avenue, Bushmills, just before midnight on Wednesday 27 October.

The attack began when paint-bombs were thrown through the living room window of the family home. Sectarian slogans were then painted on the front wall of the house. The windscreen of the family car was also broken during the attack. Flammable liquid was then poured into the car and it was set alight.

The fire in the car was put out by the three adult members of the family, who were awakened by the attack.

This is the latest in a long line of sectarian attacks which have been carried out in the North Antrim area, where the UVF has been particularly active.

Bushmills was at the centre of a row about loyalist flags and bunting during the summer, with some people claiming that they were driving tourists away. Loyalists stoned a number of buses carrying American tourists during the summer because the buses were registered in the 26 Counties.

 

Fundamentalism and unionism not far apart



By Pádraig MacDabhaid


The arrest of fundamentalist Protestant self-proclaimed `pastor' Clifford Peebles has highlighted the religious ideology which is never far from the surface within the unionist tradition.

Peebles was arrested along with James McGookin-Fisher after the RUC carried out a search of a car on the Moy Road near Dungannon around 5pm on Tuesday, 26 October.

They found a pipe bomb and two grenades during the search. Peebles and McGookin-Fisher appeared at Cookstown magistrates court on Friday, 29 October.

This is not the first time Peebles has come to the public's attention. A former member of the now defunct bogus anti-violence group Families Against Intimidation and Terror, he was released without charge by the RUC in November 1998 after six grenades and six detonators were discovered at the mission hall were he preaches and is a keyholder in the loyalist Woodvale area of North Belfast.

The Russian-made grenades which were found in his the hall were the same type which were used by the Orange Volunteers when they staged a show of strength in December 1997. These weapons were also part of the arms cache brought into the Six Counties for use by loyalists by British military intelligence agent Brian Nelson in the 1980s.

Again, Peebles was arrested and later released without charge in April of this year when he was questioned about loyalist attacks throughout the Six Counties.

He was also highly active in the Justice for Protestants group, which has been behind a number of rallies and protests in support of the Orange Order's stance at Drumcree.

McGookin-Fisher is from the Deerpark Road in Graymount, an area which has seen a number of Catholic homes and a Catholic man murdered by dissident loyalists in recent years.

The media and unionist sources are quick to point at Peebles and his associates and label them as ``crackpots'' or ``dissidents''. It appears easy to justify these comments when we hear members of the Orange Volunteers tell how they and their explosives are blessed by a pastor before they try to kill Catholics.

The reality, however, is quite different. People like Peebles are readily afforded places within the unionist family - unionism was founded by people with his views and beliefs. One of the fundamental tenets of unionism and loyalism is the ``For God and Ulster'' mentality.

Not far below the surface of unionism is this fundamentalist mentality. Of the mainstream unionist parties, this fundamentalist stream arises most frequently in the DUP. For evidence of this we need look no further than the Reverend William McCrea's threats against the nationalist people after Martin McGuinness took his Mid-Ulster seat or the DUP's flirtation with the Ulster Resistance grouping.

David Trimble is himself a former member of the right-wing Ulster Vanguard and, as was witnessed in 1996, had no qualms about speaking to that other infamous former pastor, loyalist killer Billy Wright, in order to further the Orange Order's attempts to march down the Garvaghy Road.

Political unionism has as its bedrock the Orange Order, a group steeped in fundamentalist religious doctrine. At times when unionism feels it is in difficulty or the Orange Order is having problems, loyalist attacks begin to increase. People like Peebles are not dissidents. The reality is that unionism and so-called ``dissidents'' feed off of each other. They complement each other when the need arises and both are linked through their fundamentalist religious beliefs, which quite often find common ground in organisations such as the Orange Order, which form the backbone of unionism/loyalism in the Six Counties.
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