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4 May 2000 Edition

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Loyalists develop more deadly bomb

BY LAURA FRIEL

A more lethal pipe bomb has been developed by loyalists. A bomb in South Down discovered last month was the first of a new type of loyalist pipe bomb to be found in the Six Counties. The bomb was discovered outside the loyalist village of Clough. It is believed loyalists intended to use the device in an attack on a republican commemoration in Castlewellan on Easter Sunday.

The new device has been described as far more sophisticated and far more deadly. It is believed to have been manufactured at a factory in Kilkeel. In a campaign of sectarian terror, loyalists operating under the banners of the Red Hand Defenders and Orange Volunteers have used pipe bomb devices in numerous attacks in recent years.

In June 1999, a 59-year-old grandmother, Elizabeth O'Neill, was killed when a pipe bomb was thrown by loyalists through her living room window. Elizabeth was a Protestant but her marriage to a Catholic was sufficient to make her a target. The O'Neill family lived in Corcrain Drive, close to the Garvaghy Road in Portadown. The killing was linked to Orange Order protests at Drumcree.

In September 1998, during a Drumcree protest by Orangemen in the Corcrain area of Portadown, an RUC officer sustained fatal injuries when a pipe bomb was thrown by a loyalist demonstrator. Frank O'Reilly died a month later. Similar devices were thrown during Orange occupations of Drumcree field.

Following last months' find in Clough, a number of other similar pipe bomb devices have been discovered in the Kilkeel area. Earlier in the year, on St. Patrick's Day, two pipe bombs were discovered close to the route of a parade by the Ancient Order of Hibernians. The find followed an unsuccessful submission to the Parades Commission organised by DUP Assembly member Jim Wells against allowing an AOH parade through the town.

The discovery of new, more lethal, pipe-bomb devices follows recent moves by loyalists in the South Down area to reactivate their campaign of sectarian terror. Despite the fact that the LVF is officially on ceasefire, gang members are believed to be pressing for a full resumption of their killing campaign.

In contravention of the ceasefire, a number of LVF gangs have been targeting nationalist and republican rallies. The recent upsurge in loyalist activity comes against the backdrop of tension between the two largest loyalist terror groups, the UDA and UVF.

In West Belfast, the UDA has been giving support and cover to the LVF in their long standing feud with the UVF. The UDA are also believed to have colluded in a series of sectarian murders carried out under the banner of the LVF in 1997 to 1998.

LVF leaders have also asked the UDA in West and North Belfast to back them during this coming year's Orange protests at Drumcree. Loyalists are threatening to intensify their campaign of intimidation and violence if Orangemen are not allowed to march down the nationalist Garvaghy Road this year.


Catholic flees after campaign of sectarian intimidation



BY LAURA FRIEL

A Catholic man living in Larne has been force to flee from his home after the latest attack in a loyalist campaign of terror against his family. James Gribben said that he had no doubt that those who attacked his home in the early hours of Tuesday 2 May, intended to kill or seriously injure him.

At around 4am, James was awoken by a series of loud bangs from the front of his Salagh Park house. He described hearing an even louder bang accompanied by a flash and smoke. After the attackers ran off, James discovered a crossbow bolt sticking through the porch window.

This was the second attack within 24 hours. On Monday night, a bag of petrol had been placed under the back wheel of James' car before a petrol bomb was thrown at the vehicle. The car failed to ignite.

James believes he is being targeted by loyalists because he is a Catholic. His family has been targeted in a number of recent sectarian incidents in Larne. His brother Vincent was previously burnt out of his home in Antyville, a predominately loyalist housing estate in Larne. More recently, Vincent was among a number of Catholic families to receive death threats through the post.

Meanwhile, Larne footballer Jackie Coulter remains in intensive care after he was attacked by a loyalist mob in the mistaken belief that he was a Catholic. The Irish League player and two friends were set upon by the gang outside the Larne club's grounds at Inver Park.

The three men had been attending an end of season players' award ceremony. They left the grounds to wait on a taxi which never arrived. They were set upon by a group of youths. Two of the men managed to escape but Coulter was badly beaten.
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