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8 November 2001 Edition

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Taxi driver escapes death in Lurgan

A Catholic taxi driver was lucky to escape death when loyalists opened fire on him as he went to pick up a fare in the Mourneview Estate in Lurgan on Wednesday night, 31 October.

The Catholic driver was responding to a call to pick up a fare on the Mourneview estate, but when he arrived at the address and saw no lights on in the house he called and told the operator he wasn't happy and was returning to base. Just as he drove off, he heard a number shots and accelerated away. A bullet was later found embedded in the back of the vehicle.

The driver, who didn't want to be named, said that he reversed into the cul-de-sac and it was this manoeuvre which saved his life. "If I had driven into the street I would have had to do a three point turn to get out," he said. "They could have just walked over to the car and shot through the window.

This is the second time in a month that loyalists have tried to kill a taxi driver in Lurgan. On Saturday 13 October at 3am, another driver from the same company said he was targeted while responding to a bogus call in the Mourneview estate when a pipe bomb was thrown at his car. The driver is accusing the RUC of not taking the incident seriously.

Sinn Féin's Dara O'Hagan says people are concerned that the RUC are treating the incident so lightly. Last Wednesday's shooting, O'Hagan said, "was clearly sectarian and designed to kill. It is only by pure luck that the driver escaped unharmed."


O'Loan's son attacked



The 14-year-old son of Police Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan was chased by a loyalist gang and severely beaten near his home in Ballymena on Friday 26 October.

The attack was carried out on Kieran O'Loan, who is a Catholic, as he was walking with two friends in the Woodcroft estate on the Galgorm Road in the predominantly loyalist town.

Although the motive for the attack was sectarian, it is thought that the loyalists singled the youth out because of who his parents are. As well as his mother being the 'Police Ombudsman' the boy's father, Declan O'Loan, is an SDLP councillor in the town.


Bouncers walk out after death threats



Bouncers from Lavery's bar in Bradbury Place, Belfast, have walked out of their jobs after a series of threats issued by the UDA in recent weeks. The bar has a huge student clientele and has been targeted by loyalists a number of times in the past.

The most recent threats were made in the wake of a shooting incident at the bar carried out by the UDA just over two weeks ago. No one was injured in the drive-by shooting. Earlier that day, the UDA had staged a show of strength in the Tiger's Bay area when they marched to commemorate one of their members killed in last year's feud with the UVF.

Following the Tiger's Bay parade a detachment of UDA members paraded at Bradbury Place, which is on Belfast's Golden Mile, where they blocked traffic. It was within hours of this show of strength that the shooting was carried out.


Nationalists call for RIR patrols to end



Survivors of Trauma spokesperson Brendan Bradley is calling for an end to the RIR presence on the Ardoyne Road in North Belfast.

Bradley, whose organisation represents the relatives of many nationalists who were killed over the past 30 years, made his call in the aftermath of the killing of Tyrone Catholic Colin Foy.

Foy was shot dead by an RIR soldier last Sunday, 28 October as he drank in the Four Ways Hotel in Fivemiletown.

"Nationalists do not trust the RIR and feel threatened by their presence", said Bradley, "the incident in Tyrone only serves to point up the nature of this regiment".

Meanwhile Derry Sinn Féin councillor Lynn Fleming has described the presence of RIR patrols in Derry's Waterside area, "as a deliberate act of provocation".

Fleming was speaking after residents of the Nationalist Top of the Hill area contacted her to complain of harassment.

According to Fleming, there has been an increase in RIR patrols and checkpoints around the Top of the Hill, with the result that residents are being held up at checkpoints.

"Nationalists in the Waterside have long and bitter experience of this sectarian force and I am calling for them to be removed at once", said Fleming.

And a public meeting organised by Sinn Féin has heard calls for RIR patrols around the Queen's University Halls of residence in Belfast to stop.

The meeting, organised to discuss demilitarisation and attended by almost 100 students, focused on the increased RIR patrolling around the Halls of Residence.


Teenager suffers fractured skull



A 17-year-old girl from the small Carrickhill area in North Belfast suffered a fractured skull and was left with a permanent indentation in her forehead after a vicious sectarian attack.

The attack occurred when Leona Davis was leaving a friend home shortly after 10.30pm on Tuesday 23 October. A car sped past the pair as they walked along the small nationalist enclave, situated at the bottom of the loyalist Shankill Road, and a brick was thrown at the teenagers. Doctors at the Royal Victoria Hospital have told the teenager she may need months of surgery to heal the wound.

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