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17 October 2002 Edition

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Families escape loyalist attack

Two Catholic families escaped death or serious injury after unionist paramilitaries threw pipe bombs into the back gardens of their Bryson Court homes in the Short Strand area of East Belfast on Monday night 14 October.

One of the pipe bombs exploded in the back garden of Seaneen Lundys house and blew a hole in the fence between her home and that of Martina McGuigan.

The second device went off in the road outside the homes, taking a chunk out of the pavement.

Mother of four Seaneen Lundy explained that the bomb bounced off her back door before it exploded in the garden blowing a large hole in the fence.

"I have four children under the age of six", said Seaneen, "we have been living in the two front rooms fro the last year because of all the attacks. It never ends. I am just going to move."

Seaneen said that her children were in the house when the attack occurred and that they were hysterical.

Meanwhile, Martina McGuigan, who has three children, also said that Monday's attack was the last straw for her.

This is the third attack on her home. In July, a bomb exploded in her back garden. That device hit a bedroom window but luckily didn't penetrate and fell into the garden where it exploded, causing damage to both her and Seaneen's house.

Sinn Fein councillor for the area Joe O'Donnell criticised the lack of security being provided for families living along Bryson Street saying "nationalist houses in the area are being targeted almost on a nightly basis by unionist death squads pipe and petrol bombs. The fence along Bryson Street was strengthened during the summer but it stops directly outside the homes that were targeted on Monday.

"However the real message I want to get across is for politicians and community workers in the unionist community to stop unionist paramilitaries using the Thistle Court area as a launch pad for attacks on homes in the Short Strand."


North Belfast attacks


Meanwhile, nationalist homes in Alliance Avenue in North Belfast came under attack from masked loyalists throwing petrol bombs from the loyalist Glenbryn estate at around 6pm on Monday 15 October.

Nationalist residents say the latest attacks have been orchestrated by elements of the UDA and it's getting to the stage where nationalists are afraid to go to bed at night for fear of being burned alive.

"We were sitting in the house watching television when a crowd of masked loyalists came down and started to throw stones and bottles at our houses then they attacked us with petrol bombs," said a resident.

The latest sectarian attack came just 24 hours after a Catholic father of four escaped injury in a loyalist petrol bomb attack.


Sectarian attacks must end



Sinn Féin councillor for Oldpark in North Belfast, Eoin Ó Broin, has said there is no justification for sectarian attacks against Protestants.

The Sinn Féin representative was speaking in the wake of attacks against a Protestant woman coming from work and a stone attack on a bus belonging to the Girls Model School in the last week.

Speaking to An Phoblacht, Ó Broin said: "These attacks are completely and utterly wrong and there is no justification for sectarian attacks, whether they are directed against the Protestant or Catholic community."

Ó Broin told An Phoblacht that he spoke to the Belfast Education and Library Board, reassuring them if they have any suggestions on how Sinn Féin could assist in bringing about an end to such attacks, the party would do its utmost to help.

"We would be interested in hearing any suggestions from the unionist representatives about constructively challenging and ultimately attempt to bring any sectarian attacks to an end," said Ó Broin.

He appealed to the nationalist community not to engage in any such attacks as this only makes the job of those who have been working hard to keep a lid on tensions in North Belfast and elsewhere a lot harder.


Loyalists stage Stoneyford roadblock



Sinn Féin Lisburn councillor Paul Butler has called on nationalists to be on their guard after the disclosure that unionist paramilitaries staged an illegal roadblock in the small County Antrim village of Stoneyford, outside Belfast.

A woman, who wants to remain anonymous, was stopped as she made her way home from work last week and her car was pulled over to the side of the road by four men wearing combat clothing and balaclavas. Two of them were armed with guns and told her they were from a loyalist group and were looking for car thieves before asking to see her driving licence.

Butler added that there has been an increase in sectarian attacks and intimidation of Catholics living in this area, especially in rural parts of Stoneyford, and the fact that loyalist flags can be flown in the village with impunity will not instil confidence in the Catholic community in the area that the PSNI are serious about tackling sectarianism.



Dead woman's daughter wants truth



The daughter of Derry woman Kathleen Thompson, who was shot dead by a British soldier in November 1971, has demanded to know the truth about her mother's death.

Minty Thompson has accused the authorities of giving her family "the run around" as they try to find out the truth. The latest twist in the saga came earlier this month, when British Minister Des Browne wrote to the family informing them that the PSNI were unable to locate a file on the death.

However, this contradicts earlier information that a file on Kathleen Thompson's killing had been found by the PSNI just hours before a Ulster Television Programme was due to be broadcast about the killing of the mother of six children.

In a letter dated 28 May, the PSNI told the family's solicitor that the file had been located on 6 March and had been passed onto the Director of Public Prosecutions(DPP) but the British Minister Des Brown said the PSNI informed him that they were unable to locate the file relating to Kathleen Thompson's death.

Minty Thompson said she doesn't know where the truth is anymore, saying "one minute they have found the file the next they haven't.

"The fact remains that either they were lying back in March or else they are lying now. I just wish someone would tell us the truth about our mother's death."

 

Loyalist feud latest


BY FERN LANE


The LVF has issued a statement in an attempt to bring the current loyalist feud to an end. The feud, which began in September, has led to at least nine shootings and three deaths. It began with the killing of LVF member Stephen Warnock in Newtownards. The UDA denied any involvement in the shooting and Johnny Adair and his associate John White were expelled from the organisation after attending the funeral of Warnock. Adair was reported to have fled to Scotland in fear for his life.

The LVF retaliated by attempting to kill Jim Gray, a senior UDA man, who was shot in the face but survived. Then Geoffrey Gray, 41, was shot dead at Ravenhill Avenue.

The latest casualty is 22-year old loyalist Alexander McKinley, who was shot in the head in the Woodstock Road area of East Belfast on Monday last week and died of his wounds on Sunday. Shortly before the incident, a gunman opened fire on another unnamed man who was walking through the Beersbridge Road area.

On Friday, loyalists also attempted to kill a man in Church Street, Bangor, as he answered a knock on the door in the early hours of the morning. He was hit in the stomach and chest when the gunman fired through the glass pane of the door but survived.

Although the LVF have indicated that they want to bring the feud with the UDA to an end, their statement issued to the BBC last Friday says that the group reserves the right to "protect" its members. The statement does not clear the East Belfast UDA of involvement in the killing of Stephen Warnock, a move which senior UDA men had said was a prerequisite to any mediation between the two groups.

On Tuesday last week, loyalist leaders took part in talks with members of the Protestant clergy on the Loyalist Commission. It is not clear what the outcome of these negotiations was, but the episode makes life for nationalists in Belfast, particularly the interface areas, even more fraught than it is already, as the traditional means for loyalist to end their frequent falling-outs is to embark on the random killing of Catholics.

 

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