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22 November 2001 Edition

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Workman lucky to be alive

A Catholic man had a lucky escape from death after a loyalist gunman opened fire on him as he waited for a lift to work on Friday 16 November.

The man, who wishes to remain anonymous, was hit in the hand when the loyalists fired at him from a passing car.

The 49-year-old was standing outside a pub in the tiny County Derry village of Clady when the gun gang struck.

According to Seamus O'Neill, the local Sinn Féin councillor, who was on the scene of the shooting in minutes, the attack was carried out by two masked men travelling in red Vauxhall Nova car. "The car came through the village and drove past one man, it then turned and drove towards the second man, pulled in beside him and the gunman rolled down the window and fired up to three shots before driving away," he said.

One of the shots hit the man in the hand. Speaking to the media, the man said he put his hand up to protect his head from the first shot and that saved his life. He then turned and ran.

Seamus O'Neill accused the UDA of carrying out the attack and said it was part of that organisation's plan to draw republicans back into conflict.

The shooting of the Clady building worker came within days of a gun attack on a former republican prisoner on the Ballycastle to Armoy road as he drove home from work.


Club director targeted by bombers



The man targeted last week by loyalist pipe bombers in Ballycastle, County Antrim, is a director of Coleraine soccer club.

Maurice Laverty's house on the Whitepark Road was targeted last Friday, 16 November, when a pipe bomb was left in the front garden.

The device, discovered at about 2.15pm, failed to detonate.

Laverty is a director of Coleraine soccer club and one of the few Catholics to sit on the board of any soccer team based in the Six Counties. According to media reports, Laverty has had sectarian abuse directed at him by loyalist supporters in the past.

Laverty said he was targeted because he is "a high profile Catholic".


Limavady loyalist beating



Two Catholic brothers who were beaten by a loyalist gang in Limavady, County Derry in the early hours of Sunday morning 11 November had just gone out to get some fish and chips.

One of the brothers is physically disabled and needs crutches.

The two brothers were rushed to hospital where they received treatment for their injuries, with the younger of the pair receiving 17 stitches in a head wound.

Sinn Féin councillor Francie Brolly said that Limavady has seen an increase in loyalist violence since the beginning of the summer.


Loyalist flags designed to intimidate nationalists



Sinn Féin MP for West Tyrone Pat Doherty has described the flying of loyalist flags in Castlederg, County Tyrone as "a blatant attempt to intimidate and instil fear among the nationalists in the area".

Castlederg is a small, mainly nationalist village in West Tyrone and according to Doherty the area surrounding the village has been saturated by loyalist flags over the summer.

Flags have gone up on the Drumquin, Killeter, Scraghey and Strabane Roads. The flags erected on the Killeter Road were put up outside St Eugene's Catholic secondary school in view of the local RUC/PSNI barracks.

"The ability of loyalists to erect such a volume of paramilitary flags without as much as a whimper from the force has only served to reinforce the well founded perception in this community that loyalists can act with impunity," said Doherty. He pointed out that the proliferation of the loyalist flags has coincided with an increase in loyalist band parades and sectarian attacks in the area.

Doherty has offered to meet Ulster Unionist Assembly member Derek Hussey, "in an attempt to explore what they can do at a political level to improve relations between the nationalist unionist communities in the Castlederg area".

Doherty was responding to comments that Hussey made in the media where he said that relations between the two communities in the Castlederg area had reached a new low after a Protestant teenager had been attacked.

 

Threats to Derry building workers



The PSNI/RUC on Tuesday today visited over 40 building sites in and around Derry city to warn of a serious threat to Catholic workers from loyalist paramilitaries. The majority of the workers are on Housing Executive contracts working to upgrade public housing stock. The threat comes just over a week after the attempted murder of a building worker in the Waterside area of Derry and an early morning gun attack on another Catholic worker waiting for a lift to work in Clady, Co Antrim. A PSNI/RUC spokesperson, Stuart Tosh, warned Catholic workers to be vigilant.

Tosh, then a Superintendent, was one of those who attended the scene of the 1991 murder of Tyrone man Patrick Shanahan by loyalist paramilitaries. The case was one of those recently highlighted in a European Court decision which upheld the claim that the state had failed to carry out a thorough and effective investigation and was thus guilty of violation of the European Convention, the 'right to life' article. A local priest and doctor were denied access to the dying man. This occurred before Tosh arrived on the scene of the ambush.

Sinn Féin Assembly member for Derry Mary Nelis just last week raised the intimidation of workers in the Assembly after Catholics working in the loyalist Fountain area were threatened.

 

Castlewellan monument vandalised



Members of a notorious loyalist family from the South Down area were behind the destruction of a republican memorial in Castlewellan, local republicans told An Phoblacht.

The memorial, located in the Square in the County Down town was badly damaged in the sledgehammer attack on Saturday 17 November.

The Celtic Cross monument, in danger of collapsing, was removed by local republicans but they have vowed to rebuild it "at the earliest possible date".

The memorial was only erected this year. It commemorates republican dead from the area. Before it was built unionists, backed by the SDLP, tried to stop the work saying that because it was council land it couldn't be built without planning permission.

However, the local commemoration committee went ahead and built the memorial, saying that republicans in the area had the right to honour their dead in the same way as others.

This is the second time in a matter of months that a memorial to republicans in South Down has been desecrated. Loyalists are also thought to have wrecked the monument in Downpatrick, built at the spot were Volunteer Colum Marks, was shot dead by the RUC in 1991.

In a statement Sinn Féin assembly member, Mick Murphy, said it was a sad indication of the intolerance within our society and the result of unionism's attempt to demonise republicans.

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