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14 February 2002 Edition

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Longlands under siege

"We are living under siege here," said the woman resident of Longlands in the aftermath of yet another weekend of attacks in which loyalists bombarded the small estate with bricks, bottles and a barrage of skyrockets.

It is clear from speaking to the woman that the residents of Longlands are living on their nerves. The estate, a small isolated nationalist enclave on the outskirts of North Belfast, has suffered much from a concerted loyalist onslaught over the years.

Catholic postman Danny McColgan, from Longlands Court, was shot dead last month by the UDA in nearby Rathcoole. Such attacks are nothing new. On 9 July 1976, the UDA burst into the Longlands Road home of Mervyn and Rosaleen McDonald and shot the Catholic couple dead in front of their two children. At the time, an SDLP politician said the attack was "part of a murderous campaign to drive Catholics from the area".

That loyalists are still intent on driving Catholics from the area is clear from the way the UDA orchestrated campaign has continued relentlessly. One woman, Jacqueline Collins, who is wheelchair bound, has suffered more than most. Her home is on the corner and is vulnerable from attacks from Arthur Bridge.

Jacqueline who lives with her three-year-old daughter, says her home is "right in the firing line". She has a wooden board in front of her window to stop missiles coming through. Last September, she was lucky to escape when a petrol bomb exploded on the window sill. So far, the housing executive have refused to install reinforced, security glass in her home.

This week's trouble began on Friday, when up to 30 loyalists came onto Arthur Bridge and stoned the houses on Longlands Court. "It took the RUC/PSNI over half an hour to come to the scene", said one man. On Saturday, between 30 and 50 loyalists, many of them drunk, again appeared on Arthur Bridge to attack the houses. Again it took RUC/PSNI over 15 minutes to respond.

The loyalists then moved through the White City estate and attacked Catholic houses on Serpentine Road. The attacks continued on Monday morning when at 6.45am a gang of loyalists came onto the Bridge armed with bricks and bottles.

One man explained to An Phoblacht that when a number of residents went out to confront the loyalists the RUC/PSNI came on the scene and arrested two of the nationalist residents. One man was charged with a breach of the peace.

"This is typical of the RUC/PSNI," said Sinn Féin councillor Breige Meehan, "Loyalists are allowed to attack nationalist areas with impunity yet the minute nationalists try to defend themselves they are arrested."

Sinn Féin's Danny Lavery also criticised the RUC/PSNI over their reaction to the residents of Serpentine Road.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1

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