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16 January 2003 Edition

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Fresh sectarian attacks in Antrim

A 21-year-old nationalist man was rushed to Antrim area hospital after he was seriously assaulted by an LVF gang at around 3am on Sunday 12 January. The man sustained a broken arm and cuts to his legs and body after being hit with baseball bats and cudgels studded with nails in the Greystone estate.

Sinn Féin South Antrim councillor Martin Meehan condemned the sectarian attack and said that an LVF gang of up to 12 men, based in the Ballycraigy area of the town, were behind that attack.

"Unionist paramilitaries are determined to kill someone and it was only through sheer luck that this young man wasn't more seriously injured," said Meehan.

"This gang was able to cruise around the town in a convoy of three cars for over two hours and not once were they stopped by the PSNI. This is in stark contrast to the way the PSNI deal with nationalist youths, who are being harassed at every opportunity by the PSNI in the Antrim area."

Meehan has called on nationalists to be very careful, especially walking home at night.

The PSNI have said they are treating the attack as attempted murder.

Meanwhile, it has emerged that Translink workers at Antrim bus depot have been protecting Catholic schoolchildren from sectarian assaults by loyalist youths.

The schoolchildren, who attend St Olcan's school in Randalstown, have to transfer to other buses at Antrim depot and are frequently besieged by what Martin Meehan described as "unionist hate mobs", sometimes over 30-strong.

The schoolchildren have to be brought in by the back entrance to the depot and Translink workers have to wait with the children until their connecting bus arrives. Drivers have developed a protective system of parking buses within inches of each other so that the schoolchildren just move from one bus to the other.

Meehan told An Phoblacht that he has been approached by a number of parents who want these sectarian attacks on their children stopped.

"We had similar attacks at Ballymena bus station and now they have spread to Antrim station," he said. "These parents just want their children to be allowed to go home in peace and not be attacked by these sectarian bigots. I call on unionist politicians to act to put a stop to this immediately," said Meehan.

Ammunition charge loyalist on police liaison body

Loyalist William Cameron remains chair of the Carrickfergus police liaison committee despite being arrested in connection with last week's attempted murder of Robert Ewart, linked to the UDA feud in the East Antrim town.

At Laganside Court on Saturday 11 January, Cameron, a former Ulster Democratic Party representative in South East Antrim, was arrested in connection with a loyalist gun attack and charged with one count of possessing ammunition between 1 January 1 and 8 January.

Cameron (37), from Dean Park in Carrickfergus, who twice ran as an independent candidate for Carrickfergus Borough Council, told the court he found the ammunition and was not a member of a paramilitary organisation.

Sources have told An Phoblacht that Cameron was a member of the community police liaison group. We were told he stood down from his position on the strategy partnership for Carrickfergus, but is still chair of the police liaison committee".

Sinn Féin's Martin Meehan told An Phoblacht that as a member of the strategy partnership for Carrickfergus, Cameron would have been involved in funding peace initiatives under Peace 2 European grant funding.

"The objections of Peace 2 money is a commitment to peace and addressing the legacy of the conflict, but here we have a member of that strategy board charged in connection with the UDA feud," said Meehan.

Ewart remains in a critical condition in hospital after he was shot by two gunmen at his home in Carrickfergus.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1

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