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10 February 2000 Edition

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Sectarian attack in Larne

``These people came out to murder,'' said Philip Murphy as he described the arson attack on his house in Ballytober Road, Larne. The Murphy family were due to move into their ``dream home'' after building work was completed on the 200-year-old property. An arson attack in the early hours of Sunday morning reduced the house to a burnt out shell and destroyed the family's hopes.

The father of four had been in the house all day Saturday ``doing odd jobs'', together with his two sons. He said it had been ``pure chance'' that they had not been sleeping in the house at the time of the attack. The Murphys, the only Catholic family living in the area, have described the attack as sectarian.

The family pointed out that they have not encountered any difficulty with their neighbours but believe they may have become loyalist targets after Philip Murphy refused to sign a petition against proposals to site a GAA pitch a couple of fields away from his home. A petition had been circulated which included almost 200 names. Murphy was the only person living locally who did not sign it.

Recent attempts to get planning permission for a new GAA pitch by Antrim club Latharna Og have been widely opposed by unionist councillors sitting on Larne Council.

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