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28 September 2000 Edition

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LVF accused in Short Strand shooting

Local sources are blaming LVF gunmen of trying to kill two Catholic brothers as they worked in their Short Strand garage, last Thursday 21 September.

The brothers, who did not wish to be named, spoke to An Phoblacht and said that although they initially thought the attack was a practical joke, they now realise that they are very lucky to be alive.

In the immediate aftermath of the incident none of the main loyalist gangs admitted responsibility, leading to speculation that it was carried out to deflect from the negative fall out from the loyalist feud.

However, while in the area on Friday, An Phoblacht was told by reliable local sources that a LVF gang that has carried out a number of attacks in the area, including a machete attack on a man last year, was responsible.

The attack was carried out last Thursday at about 4pm as the brothers, who are both married with families, worked in their Bryson Street garage.

One of the men explained that as he worked on a car he looked up and saw the lone gunman aiming at him with a handgun. ``I thought it was a joke, but then he fired a shot which hit the car I was working at. I ducked behind the car and the gunman moved around and fired again''.

After firing a third shot the loyalist made his escape on foot with reports saying that he walked calmly towards the loyalist Newtownards Road.

The brothers then took hammers and went out onto Bryson Street to give chase to the loyalist. The RUC later sealed off a small loyalist estate on the Newtownards Road where the gunman fled, but nothing was found.

``This was certainly a random sectarian attack aimed at the first Catholic this gunman got his sights on'', said Sinn Féin representative Joe O'Donnell, ``we could just as easily have been attending two funerals''.


Loyalists scupper soccer fixtures


Nationalist soccer teams were once again driven off Suffolk playing pitches last Saturday, as loyalist bigots littered the playing surfaces with broken glass and nails.

All games, both senior and junior involving school children, were cancelled last Saturday morning 23 September, after it was discovered that nails and broken bottles were strewn across the pitch and threatening graffiti had been painted at the entrance to the park.

Describing the attack as, ``despicable'', Sinn Féin councillor for the area, Gerard O'Neill, said the attack was the third such incident in a year.

``This incident only serves to highlight the endemic sectarianism in local soccer'', said O'Neill. He went on to say that local authorities have failed to address the problem of the lack of facilities and protection for nationalist teams who are ``week in week out forced to use pitches in loyalist areas''.


Sinn Féin representatives on diplomatic mission


Sinn Féin assembly members Conor Murphy and Pat McNamee will travel to Dublin this Thursday, to brief the ambassadors of South Africa, Denmark, France and Mexico on the lack of demilitarisation in South Armagh.

In a statement Murphy and McNamee, who represent the South Armagh area, said that ``it is important that the world knows what is happening in South Armagh.

``The British government has been briefing the international media that significant moves to demilitarise South Armagh have taken place. They have presented the minor alterations in Crossmaglen and Cloughhogue as significant demilitarisation. In fact we have had reports from the United States that people there have been led to believe that the British Army has withdrawn from Crossmaglen. It is therefore important that we engage in this intensive series of briefings, to tell the truth to as many government representatives as we can''.

The pair explained that party activists had, over the past number of weeks, gathered evidence of increased British military activity in the area. ``Helicopter flights and patrols are constant features of life, six years after the IRA cessation'', they concluded.

Meanwhile Toni Carragher, of the South Armagh Farmers and Residents Committee (SAFRC), has said that members of the committee are being targeted for harassment by the British army and the RUC.

In the past week six members of the SAFRC have been stopped by British patrols and on each occasion told to present motor documentation at the joint British army and RUC barracks in Crossmaglen.

``All these incidents have taken place on a half mile stretch road just outside Dromintee'', says Carragher. ``It is hardly a coincidence that after being held and questioned for up to ten minutes, six of our committee was ordered to appear at Crossmaglen barracks''.

Speaking to An Phoblacht, Carragher said that members of SAFRC would soon be travelling to the United States, to raise the issue of the British military presence in the area. ``The South Armagh area is still the most militarised area of Western Europe. People here are under constant surveillance and are being harassed by both ground troops and helicopter overflights. We want to build international pressure on the British to remove their bases, which are an intrusion on the everyday lives of thousands of people living here'', she said.

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An Phoblacht
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