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18 July 2002 Edition

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RIR pelt Short Strand with bottles

Sinn Féin councillor Joe O'Donnell has labelled the British Army's Royal Irish Regiment "sectarian" after soldiers from the regiment, which has been on duty at the East Belfast interface, threw bottles from the loyalist Cluan Place into the Clandeboye area of Short Strand last Tuesday, 16 July.

According to O'Donnell a number of the RIR soldiers, who were on duty at Cluan Place, began throwing bottles into the Short Strand area.

The RIR is a regiment of the British Army made up of people from the Six Counties, mostly unionists, and has a history of anti-Catholic bias.

Nationalists from the Short Strand have complained about the deployment of the RIR around the district since the loyalists began to lay siege to the area two months ago.

Tuesday's incident comes days after twelve-year-old Liam Lawlor was hit by a firework while he was in the back of his Clandeboye home last Wednesday 10 July.

The incident happened when Liam's mother sent him to get a tape measure from the garden shed and as he was in the back the firework was thrown over the 'peaceline' from Cluan Place.

Liam's mother, Denise, said she heard the firework coming over and as Liam tried to run, "the thing exploded in his face". The schoolboy was lucky enough to suffer only minor burns.

The previous week, the Lawlors had to move from their home after a pipe bomb, also thrown from the Cluan Place area, exploded and blew out the windows of their home.

"Loyalists had been throwing fireworks across the 'peaceline' from Tuesday afternoon," said Denise. "We are told there is no one living in Cluan Place and that the British army is there all the time so how can this be happening?"

The mother also complained that she had phoned 999 when her son was hit but that "two hours later, the RUC/PSNI still hadn't arrived".

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