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14 June 2001 Edition

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Widespread loyalist attacks

Church burned

As election tension heightened last week, loyalists carried out a series of attacks on Catholic homes and businesses throughout the North.

St Bernard's Catholic chapel in Glengormley on the outskirts of Belfast was burnt to the ground in the early hours of Monday morning, 11 June. The attack comes at a time of heightened tension in the area exacerbated by a loyalist threat to picket a Cemetery Sunday Mass at Carnmoney. In the early hours of Friday morning, 8 June, two Catholic families living in Derry's Waterside had been attacked by a loyalist gunman. Both families were attacked in the past.

Also last Friday, a pipe bomb was thrown at the home of a Catholic family in Limavady, County Derry. The device exploded at the back of the house on Coolessan Walk at about 1am on Friday. No one was injured.

In Cloughmills, County Antrim, a petrol bomb was hurled through the window of the Wayside Inn pub just before 1am on Wednesday morning, 6 June, causing minor scorch damage to the seating area. No one was injured.

Less than an hour later, at Fairway in the centre of Larne, a Catholic family's car was set alight and destroyed.

GAA targeted in hoax bomb

British Army bomb experts were called to a GAA club in South Derry on Wednesday 6 June after the discovery of a suspect device shortly before 2pm at Lavey GAA club at Quarry Road, Gulladuff. It was found to be an elaborate hoax.

Education minister Martin McGuinness, who represents the area, accused those responsible for planting the device of ``attempting to strike fear into the hearts of the nationalist people.

He urged everyone, particularly in isolated areas and those working or socialising in premises identified with the nationalist community, to be extra vigilant and not approach any object that appears to be suspicious.

Cars vandalised in Belfast

A family from the St James's area of Belfast, whose cars were targeted by a loyalist mob from the Village area last week, estimate the cost of the damage to be £2,000.

Every year the family's house is targeted as the marching season approaches. In this latest incident a masked mob attacked the cars in the early hours of the morning. While one group was carrying out the attacks, a second group of masked and armed men watched from across the road.

``Both my wife's and son's cars were parked in the driveway and both were smashed with baseball bats,'' said Sammy Benson. ``When we called the RUC they took an hour to arrive and then asked if I had had an argument with my neighbours. I told them to get back to the barracks and check the records on the attacks on my homes over the years.''

Derry attacks

A 13-year-old boy was assaulted and threatened by a gang of up to 12 loyalists in the Tullyalley area of Derry City on Wednesday, 6 June.

The boy's mother, who wished to remain anonymous, said that her son and two of his friends were approached as they returned from a soccer match. The gang attacked the boys and punched them although two of them managed to escape. They then started screaming, ``are you a Fenian or a Prod?'' at the one remaining boy, who by this time was terrified.

And Catholics living in the predominantly loyalist Clooney Estate in the Waterside area of Derry are planning to leave the area after the two latest attacks on families living there.

In the early hours of Friday morning, 8 June, a gunman fired four shots at the Harris and Hayden homes, which are next to each other. Although no one was injured, Stephen Hayden claims his girlfriend could have been killed had she been on the couch, where she normally sits. Hayden and his partner had gone to bed minutes before the shots were fired.

In the attack on the Harris home, David Harris said he heard three shots and called on his mother, who was in the kitchen, to duck down. Harris saw the gunman from an upstairs window and when the loyalists spotted him he pointed the gun at him. ``I ducked down so quickly I'm not sure if he fired,'' said Harris.

Catholics living in the Clooney estate are now threatening to move out rather than endure another summer of sectarian attacks.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1

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