6 December 2001 Edition
Widespread loyalist attacks
The relentless campaign of loyalist attacks on nationalists across the North, but mainly in North Belfast, continued throughout the week.
In the aftermath of last week's threat against Catholic workers on building sites in Derry, the UDA in South Belfast threatened a number of workers at gunpoint last Wednesday 28 November. Sinn Féin Assembly member Gerry Kelly called on those in charge of the public utility services "to rethink their policy of sending Catholic workers into loyalist areas before a life is lost".
The men were working off the Lisburn Road when they were confronted by a number of loyalists and threatened. At least one of the loyalists was armed.
In County Derry, a pipe bomb found at Ballerin GAA club was discovered after loyalists phone in a warning to say that both Ballerin and Kilrea GFC were targeted. The bomb was defused by the British army on Monday morning 26 November. It is believed the device was left at the clubhouse over the weekend.
Also that same weekend, a house on the Springfield Road in West Belfast was attacked by loyalists who came through the 'peaceline' at Workman Avenue.
The house is one of two homes on Springfield Road built by the Housing Executive with no front windows because of the constant threat residents face from loyalists.
In the attack, carried out on Friday 23 November at about 8pm, loyalists using pickaxes and hatchets tried to force their way into one of the houses. Earlier in the night the area had come under stone attack from loyalist youths as a prelude to the incursion.
In a separate incident, a local man was hit on the head with a brick when loyalists targeted him while walking past the peaceline wall. His injuries were serious enough for him to be hospitalised.
Frances McAuley, a spokesperson for the Springfield community, called for the peaceline gates at Workman Avenue to be closed at night saying,"the only people who use the gates at night are the thugs who attack our homes".
New Lodge Road
"I am very lucky to be talking to you today", a North Belfast man told An Phoblacht after he survived a hit-and-run attack by a car driven by loyalists in the early hours of Sunday morning, 2 December.
The man, who wishes to be known only as Gerard, was standing at the corner of Spamount Street and North Queen Street when the car mounted the pavement before hitting him. Gerard is a father of seven whose home was targeted by loyalist pipe bombers in January of this year.
"All I can remember is flying into the air then hitting the ground.A fellow with me, who witnessed the whole thing, told me I went right up into the air and done a somersault", said the 42-year-old. Gerard ended up with 16 staples in a serious head wound and suffered injuries along the right side of his body.
Gerard says that as he started to come round he could hear the loyalists in Tiger's bay shouting 'Fenian Bastard and finish him off'".
A car which was later found burnt out in Tiger's Bay is thought to be the came one used in the attack on Gerard.
The North Queen Street area has been the scene of numerous loyalist incursions in the past and it is an area that is fraught with tension which is why Gerard and his companion stood to keep an eye on the loyalists.
In one of the more serious incidents, a loyalist killed himself with his own bomb and loyalists have opened fore on nationalist residents.
Just last week, a loyalist who was part of a gang attacking Catholic homes on North Queen Street was shot in the chest.
Families forced out
Up to nine Catholic families are moving out of the Serpentine Gardens/Serpentine Road area of North Belfast because of UDA attacks on their homes.
According to Paul McKiernon, a spokesperson for residents in the Whitewell area the loyalist attacks have been a feature of life for nationalists in the area for years.
Over the weekend, however, since Friday 30 November, there have been nightly onslaughts "which have been clearly orchestrated, planned and organised".
In the weekend attack, loyalists gangs came from the Gunnell Hill and White City areas and stoned Catholic houses. The loyalists maintained their attacks over the weekend and, according to McKiernon, they carried out more attacks on Tuesday night 4 December.
"The people here are getting fed up with these constant attacks and want something done about it now," said a resident.
The residents are campaigning to have the 'peaceline' at the Serpentine Road and at the backs of houses on Serpentine Gardens raised. They are also planning a protest at Arthur Bridge at the nearby Longlands Estate on Thursday 6 December.
Longlands is a small isolated estate which has also been under nightly attack with loyalists from the White City bombarding the houses and residents' cars with bricks, bottles and paint bombs.
A resident of the area who spoke to An Phoblacht accused the RUC/PSNI of, "allowing loyalists to attack Catholics with impunity then turning on nationalist residents who are on the streets trying to protect their homes". In one incident the RUC/PSNI batoned six women in the estate when they protested about the behaviour of the RUC/PSNI.