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27 February 2003 Edition

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LVF pipe bombs intended to kill

A Catholic mother and her daughter had a lucky escape after the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) launched a pipe bomb attack on their Demesne Avenue home near the loyalist Mourneview estate in Lurgan, County Armagh.

One pipe bomb exploded as it hit the front door of their home at around 11.15pm on Tuesday night 25 February while a second bomb was left outside in the garden. The woman and her daughter were badly shaken; sectarian graffiti was also written on the garage door of the home.

Lurgan Sinn Fein Councillor John O'Dowd told An Phoblacht, that the attack was meant to kill. "By leaving a second pipe bomb in the front garden of their home the bombers intended to kill or maim members of this family as they came out to the garden to investigate the first explosion," he said.

The LVF was also behind the intimidation of Catholic building workers near the Glenavon Football Club in Lurgan last week.


Springfield Road homes attacked






Unionist thugs attacked nationalist homes in Springfield Meadows estate in West Belfast on Saturday 22 February just hours after the UDA declared it would observe a 12-month ceasefire.

Bottles, bricks and ball bearings were thrown over from the loyalist West Circular Road, smashing windows and damaging homes during the sustained attack.

One resident said she was petrified as bricks bounced off her roof and shattered windows.

"Loyalists have been attacking these homes and cars at Springfield Meadow for the past six months," she said. "It has been happening at a low level but the UDA have succeeded in intimidating this community, people are genuinely scared."

Sinn Féin councillor Fra McCann said the UDA's statement should be taken with a large pinch of salt. "It doesn't surprise me that nationalist homes were attacked hours after the UDA's peace pledge, given that organisation's track record. I would expect attacks launched against nationalist homes to continue throughout their so-called 12-month cessation."


Arsonists attack Catholic church




In an arson attack on St Colman's Parish church in Lambeg on Wednesday night, 19 February, loyalists bored a hole through the back door of the building before pouring flammable liquid inside and setting it alight.

Parish priest Father Brendan McMullan said he was alerted to the fire after receiving a telephone call from an alarm company.

The door and the rear porch of the church sustained scorch damaged. Fr McMullan said parishioners were very upset at the attack when they called at the church, "I don't know why the church was attacked but the PSNI said it was sectarian," he said.

Sinn Féin councillor for the area, Paul Butler, the previous week received a Valentine's card with a live bullet inside and there was another arson attack on nearby Rathmore Grammar school in the same area.

"It seems to be the same sort of modus operandi," he said, laying blame on the UDA.

Butler told An Phoblacht it was time for local unionist leaders to support their Catholic neighbours and condemn such attacks.


Ulster Young Militants beat nationalist




A 19-year-old man had his nose broken and received a head wound requiring five stitches as the result of a beating meted out to him by loyalists in Ballymena, County Antrim, in the early hours of Friday 21 February.

The youth was assaulted after two carloads of loyalists stopped and beat him about the body with a wheel brace on the Cushendall Road. The man managed to escape and get to hospital to receive treatment.

Sinn Fein councillor Philip McGuigan told An Phoblacht the man was lucky to be alive. "It was members of the Ulster Young Militants (UYM) who carried out this assault; they have been targeting nationalist for some time now and it's only a mater of time before someone is killed by these sectarian thugs.

"Here we have the UDA announcing a so-called ceasefire while their cohorts in the UYM are blatantly attacking nationalists in and around the Ballymena area."


Crumlin graffiti




Another spate of sectarian graffiti appeared in the predominantly nationalist town of Crumlin in Antrim over the last week.

Sinn Féin Councillor Martin McManus and Sinn Féin workers quickly removed similar graffiti that appeared throughout the town at the end of July last year. "At the time the loyalists wrote death threats on the walls and named a number of nationalists living in the town," said McManus.

"I have regularly removed such graffiti throughout the Antrim Borough area by painting over offensive slogans. This time the council has responded very quickly and removed the graffiti and I commend the workforce."


Sectarian threats at car plant




An internal investigation has been launched at the multinational car component plant Montupet in Dunmurry, outside Belfast, after a notebook containing personal details of Catholic employees was found.

The notebook, which contained the names of Catholic workers with sectarian comments written alongside, was discovered by two Catholic employees, who passed it on to a supervisor.

Now Catholics at the plant are frightened that their personal details are in the hands of unionist paramilitaries. One employee criticised the plant's management, which have yet to give any advice to those named. The man also accused management "of not wanting to face up to the fact that there is a sectarian element among the workforce".

A spokesperson at the component plant said an investigation is under way "in line with company policy on dignity at work which prohibits harassment of any employees of any form".


Sinn Féin criticises raids




Sinn Féin has hit out at recent raids on at the homes of two republican activists and that of a well known community worker in West Belfast. During the raids in the Andersonstown and Lenadoon areas on Thursday 20 February, computers and discs were seized by the PSNI.

Sinn Féin Assembly member for the area, Bairbre de Brún, questioned the focus of the PSNI in conducting the searches in nationalist West Belfast given the heightened levels of loyalist activity and attacks at this time.

"One of the people whose home was raided was recently advised that his personal details were in the hands of unionist paramilitaries," she said. "It is of deep concern that the PSNI have chosen to prioritise and raid the home of a person who is living under the threat of loyalist attack."

Meanwhile, another community worker from West Belfast is considering lodging a complaint with the Police Ombudsman's office after what he describes as inadequate information on a loyalist death threat against him.

Sean Osbourne, of the St James' Community Forum, said he was told by members of the PSNI last week of an imminent death threat against him, but the PSNI warning was issued to two addresses, his own and that of his former wife, and it is unclear against whom the threat was issued.

"My wife and children are terrified because we don't know which address the threat relates to," he said. "We have an imminent death threat hanging over us and the PSNI have given us inadequate information."


Council pays damages to Catholic




Fermanagh District Council has agreed to pay £12,500 to a Catholic man after he took a case against the council under the Fair Employment and Treatment Order.

After the ruling, the council expressed its regret for the distress caused to Danny McSorley, an applicant for the post of council chief executive in 2000, by the manner in which it filled the position of chief executive. It reaffirmed its commitment to equality of opportunity.

The Equality Commission supported McSorley in taking the case, but prior to a scheduled hearing, the council agreed to pay £12,500 and review its procedures for such appointments.

Equality Commission Chief Commissioner Joan Harbinson said such cases highlighted the need for councils to ensure their procedures did not give the impression that appointments were being made as a result of party political decisions.

Harbinson said councils should follow recruitment practices that make it clear that applicants will receive fair and equal treatment. "Voting which is seen to follow party lines must raise concerns about unlawful discrimination".

McSorley was previously awarded up to £20,000 for religious and political discrimination after being turned down for the post of chief technical officer of Strabane District Council in 1987.

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