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11 January 2001 Edition

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Loyalist Christmas terror

Regardless of `peace and goodwill to all', the relentless loyalist campaign against Catholics continued over the Christmas period. Throughout the North, loyalists launched pipe-bomb, gun and petrol-bomb attacks and Catholics from Coleraine in County Derry to Annalong in County Down were targeted.

Luckily in the series of attacks, which included the bombing of a pub on the outskirts of North Belfast on Christmas Eve, no one was injured.

The bomb, concealed in a traffic cone and containing nuts and bolts, exploded outside the Boundary Bar near Bawnmore, North Belfast at 11pm on Christmas Eve. Although the device caused minor damage to the pub, no one was hurt.

In nearby Glengormley, a 20-year-old man was beaten by loyalists on the Church Road as he returned home with friends after a night out. According to reports the young man was hospitalised.

Five days prior to this attack, on December 20, a family in Carrickfergus, County Antrim, escaped injury in a bomb attack. While the RUC maintained that they knew of no reason why this family was targeted, the bomb used was similar to those used by loyalists in the recent past.

The couple and their two children were asleep upstairs at the time of the blast and missed being injured.

On 3 January, a Larne woman and her two small children, aged seven and four, were targeted by loyalists, who raked their Craigyhill home with gunfire.

Helena McCambridge and her sons were asleep when loyalists, believed to be from the UDA, fired five shots into the house at Fanad Walk. She later said that there was no doubt that the loyalists assailants were out to kill her.

One of the bullets came through the front window and ricocheted around the living room. This was the third time in the past year that 27-year-old McCambridge has been targeted by loyalists. Only last month, £700 worth of damage was caused to her car which was parked outside her home, while earlier in the year she was shot at with a pellet gun as she sat on a bus in Larne.

The young woman is related to the Shaw family, which has suffered a catalogue of attacks by loyalists over the years.

At 2am the same night, a Catholic man was targeted by petrol bombers in Annalong County Down. The bomb hit the front of the house on the Glassdrumman Road, causing scorch damage. A window at the back of the house was broken by a brick during the attack.

In Coleraine, County Derry, a Catholic family were driven from their home after a gun and bomb attack on Thursday, 4 January. Uel Norton his partner and two teenage sons have vowed not to return to their Norwood Court home after the attack which saw a bomb explode in the front garden of their home and shots fired. Although no one was at home at the time, Norton says that his partner was so distressed that she needed medical treatment and his two teenage sons had to stay with friends overnight.

Norton, who is involved in cross community work and who has a brother in the RUC says this is the third attack on his home in five years. In the first incident, three petrol bombs were thrown at the house while in the second incident just about a year ago three masked men kicked in the door but the family fought them off.

``They definitely intended to kill'', said Norton, ``you don't shoot bullets and throw bombs at a house without intending to kill. We are Catholics - there was no other reason behind it''.

Over £1,000 damage was caused to a community hall near Toomebridge on the border between Antrim and Derry in the early hours of Friday 5 January. The Drumraymond Ancient Order of Hibernians Hall was converted into a community hall in the early 1980s. Red, white and blue paint was daubed over the building while guttering and drain pipes were also destroyed.

This was the second time in a year that the hall was attacked.

On Saturday night, again in Coleraine, a suspect device left on the doorstep of a Catholic family in the Kylemore Road area forced several families out of their homes. Although the RUC described the incident as ``a deliberate hoax'', a detonator was found close to the scene of the incident.


Six escape injury in loyalist bombings



A mother and her son escaped injury in the latest loyalist attack on Catholics in Larne, County Antrim while a woman and her three children also escaped injury in Ballymena after a device was thrown through the window of their Circular Road home. Both attacks were carried out under cover of darkness on Tuesday night, 9 January.

This was the third pipe bomb attack in Ballymena in three nights. On Monday night in two separate attacks in the town homes on the Cushendall Road and the Clonavon Road near the town centre were attacked. In the attack on the Cushendall Road a mixed marriage couple and their three children were uninjured.

In the Larne attack, a woman and her son were sitting in the living room of their Laharna Drive home when the bomb was thrown through the window. Although the device exploded, neither was injured, but both were badly shaken.

This latest attack comes days after the RUC claimed they had stepped up patrols in the mainly loyalist town in response to persistent recent attacks on Catholics.


Forced out of work by threats



A number of Catholic men working in Dundonald in East Belfast say they have walked out as they fear for their lives.

The men, employed by TK European Components Corporation, say the RUC warned them that loyalists were targeting them and their lives were in danger.

The RUC received a coded threat against three men from West Belfast but other Catholics working for the Japanese firm, which makes seat belts and airbags, walked out when they heard about the warning.

One man reported being followed by two men on a motorcycle on the night before the RUC informed his fellow workers of the threat.

In 1993, 47-year-old Catholic Sean Hagan was shot dead by loyalists as he left the factory.

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