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15 February 2001 Edition

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Anti-Catholic pogrom continues

In a remarkable claim made to the BBC on Wednesday afternoon, the self-styled inner council of the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) claimed that their killer gang is not involved in the ongoing bomb and gun attacks on nationalists across the Six Counties. There have been 50 bomb attacks alone since the start of the year.

Just what planet are they on? There is no doubt but that the UDA has been behind a sustained campaign of bombings and shootings against Catholics in vulnerable areas since the beginning of the year. The UDA may claim that their cessation is intact and that any attacks are `unauthorised', but the dogs in the street know that this assertion is utter rubbish. It ranks up there with UDA mouthpiece John White's claim that nationalists were attacking their own homes.

Nationalists and republicans will be equally sceptical of the UDA's call for those engaged in such attacks to desist.

Last week, a North Belfast family were lucky to escape with their lives when their home was gutted following a UDA bomb attack. This week, a four-year-old girl picked up a bomb and carried it in to show to her mother.

Had the device exploded, the mainstream media would have been quick to descend in their droves. The reality of nationalists living in constant fear is not headline news, but a crippled or dead child is a great human interest story.

Sinn Féin has continued to warn nationalists to be vigilant. This is all the more important this week given the worrying discovery of a UVF bomb factory in Belfast.

 

Toddler escapes injury as loyalist attacks continues



Just how close the UDA have come to killing Catholics was shown this week when a four-year-old girl had a narrow escape when she picked up a pipe bomb and innocently brought the deadly device into her home. Cliodhna Magee found the bomb in the Springfield Road area of Belfast last Tuesday and, as children do, she carried it into the house and gave it to her mother. Fortunately, the bomb failed to explode.

Mother of three Roisin Magee described her horror as she saw her young daughter clutching the lethal weapon in the hallway of their home. This is the third loyalist attack on members of the Magee family in recent weeks. The family has decided to flee the house for fear of further attacks.

The Belfast attack came almost a week after a similar device seriously injured a Catholic workman in Dungannon. The 53-year-old foreman was climbing into a digger on a Moygashel building site when the bomb exploded. He was rushed to Craigavon hospital after workmen found him covered in blood. He was treated for serious facial injuries and described as in `stable' condition.

This followed three overnight attacks, one a short distance from the Dungannon building site and two in Limavady, County Derry. A device exploded in the front garden of the home of a Catholic family in Gornasasor, Dungannon shortly after midnight. The bomb, made of fireworks and packed with shrapnel, damaged a nearby car and broke windows in the garage. The family, sleeping upstairs at the time, escaped injury. In Limavady, Catholic homes in Eventide Gardens and Edenmore Park were targeted around 10pm on Monday night.

Meanwhile, the discovery of a Belfast loyalist pipe bomb factory came within hours of another attack on Catholic families living in the north of the city. In the early hours of Sunday morning, a bomb exploded at the rear of a house in Alliance Avenue.

Hugh McInally was one of three people asleep upstairs when the device exploded, ripping the back door off its hinges and smashing windows at the rear of the house. Windows in a neighbour's house, a pensioner who lives alone, were also damaged. Nellie Classon described hearing a noise and looking out a back window only seconds before the device exploded, showering the upstairs bathroom with glass. Her 12-year-old grandson was staying in the house on the night of the attack. ``We were very frightened,'' said Nellie, ``I haven't slept since the attack.''

McInally, originally from Glasgow, says his home was targeted because he is a Catholic. Alliance Avenue backs onto the loyalist Glenbryne estate and despite repeated loyalists attacks, NIO security minister Adam Ingram has refused local requests to upgrade the peace line. The twelve-foot-high corrugated fence has been substantially breached at the back of a number of Alliance Avenue homes. At the back of Hugh McInally's house, the protective fence is virtually non existent. Other homes are equally vulnerable to sectarian attack.

However, in reply to a letter requesting further protection in 1998, Ingram said ``the policy of this government in relation to this matter is straightforward. We do not wish to build walls and fences to divide communities.'' Two years later and Catholic families along Alliance Avenue are still playing the price for the British minister's complacency.

A Catholic family living in the Seacourt estate in Larne have been targeted for a second time in recent weeks. Shots were fired, smashing the kitchen window, last Wednesday night. The couple and their teenage son were uninjured. The house is occupied by the only Catholic family in the row.

In the early hours of Thursday, 8 February, a pipe bomb was thrown at the home of a Catholic family living in the predominantly Protestant Fountain estate in Derry City. The attack took place around 1am when the device partially exploded under the couple's car. Windows in the house had been smashed in an earlier attack.

In the Waterside area of Derry, a second Catholic family to be targeted this week had a lucky escape when a bomb smashed through their kitchen window and exploded. The couple and two young nieces were asleep upstairs at the time and only discovered the attack the following morning.

In the County Antrim village of Broughshane, a bomb was thrown at the home of a Catholic family in Artouges Park. Tfortunately, the living room window was double glazed and the device bounced off and back into the garden, where it failed to explode. The family were in the living room at the time celebrating the school exam success of one of their children.

In a second pipe bomb attack in the village just minutes later, a device smashed through the window of a house in the Commons area. The couple, who are both Protestant, may have been targeted by loyalists because one of them comes from the south of Ireland.

Attempted Mater abduction


Union Representitives at the Mater Hospital in Belfast have raised concerns for staff safety after what appears to have been a loyalist attempt to abduct a Catholic man last Sunday morning, 11 February.

The man was on his way to work when two cars manoeuvered in front and behind him on the Antrim Road. Two men got out of the cars and the Catholic man, because he was boxed in, left his car and ran towards Lincoln Street to escape.

This incident comes only a week after Catholic workers in the North Belfast hospital were threatened by loyalists.

 

Families under loyalist attack meet Cowen



Sinn Féin North Belfast Assembly member Gerry Kelly and families who have suffered from loyalist pipe-bomb attacks and intimidation met the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Brian Cowen, at Iveagh House in Dublin last Thursday, 8 February. After the meeting, Kelly said: I

``There is a concerted sectarian campaign across the North to drive Catholic families out of some areas. They have reached a particular intensity in North Belfast and Larne. Over several weeks have seen some 50 attacks - mostly carried out by the UDA - and there is no sign of them abating. This is a pogrom, designed to drive Catholics out, heighten tensions and undermine the political and peace process.

``Minister Brian Cowen today heard at first hand the human cost of these attacks - what it is like to live under threat of being killed in these pipe-bomb attacks and the impact of this situation on their familles.

``These families live in constant fear, morning, noon and night, not just for themselves but for their children. They fear that their children could suffer then same fate as the Quinn children who were killed in a bomb attack on their home during the Drumcree protests.

``It must be remembered that these are Irish citizens under threat and under attack from loyalist death squads created and infiltrated by British Military Intelligence.

``We have asked the Irish Government to use whatever influence they have to help bring an end to these attacks. We also proposed a number of practical measures in relation to people's safety which we are glad to see the minister take on board.

``The minister expressed serious concern about what is happening and he has undertaken to bring it to the top of the agenda in his talks with the British Secretary of State at the first possible opportunity.''Families under loyalist attack meet Cowen


Sinn Féin North Belfast Assembly member Gerry Kelly and families who have suffered from loyalist pipe-bomb attacks and intimidation met the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Brian Cowen, at Iveagh House in Dublin last Thursday, 8 February. After the meeting, Kelly said: I

``There is a concerted sectarian campaign across the North to drive Catholic families out of some areas. They have reached a particular intensity in North Belfast and Larne. Over several weeks have seen some 50 attacks - mostly carried out by the UDA - and there is no sign of them abating. This is a pogrom, designed to drive Catholics out, heighten tensions and undermine the political and peace process.

``Minister Brian Cowen today heard at first hand the human cost of these attacks - what it is like to live under threat of being killed in these pipe-bomb attacks and the impact of this situation on their familles.

``These families live in constant fear, morning, noon and night, not just for themselves but for their children. They fear that their children could suffer then same fate as the Quinn children who were killed in a bomb attack on their home during the Drumcree protests.

``It must be remembered that these are Irish citizens under threat and under attack from loyalist death squads created and infiltrated by British Military Intelligence.

``We have asked the Irish Government to use whatever influence they have to help bring an end to these attacks. We also proposed a number of practical measures in relation to people's safety which we are glad to see the minister take on board.

``The minister expressed serious concern about what is happening and he has undertaken to bring it to the top of the agenda in his talks with the British Secretary of State at the first possible opportunity.''

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