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24 April 2003 Edition

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Trouble caused by loyalist bandsmen

Trouble erupted between loyalist bandsmen after the Apprentice Boys march in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh on Easter Monday, 21 April.

Loyalist bandsmen and their supporters went on the rampage, breaking windows and threatening staff in shops and public houses, while other premises didn't open at all.

A source told An Phoblacht how he had watched bandsmen urinating in the streets in front of young children.

Visitors to the town, who had come to watch the Circuit of Ireland Rally, had to run a gauntlet of sectarian abuse by drunken loyalists.

Sinn Féin Assembly member for Enniskillen, Gerry McHugh, described the behaviour of bandsmen and supporters as disgraceful and said shopkeepers and visitors had to leave the area because drunken loyalists were roaming streets looking for fights.

He said blame lies firmly with the Apprentice Boys, who brought large numbers of bandsmen and supporters into Enniskillen but couldn't control them.

"Some of those running about Enniskillen were very young and drunk, and the Apprentice Boys must shoulder the responsibility of what happened here. People in the town spoke of their fears about this parade last week and some of them actually left the area to spend the day in Donegal because they knew there would be trouble instigated by loyalists".

Meanwhile, two controversial Apprentice Boys parades in Belfast passed off without major incidents.

There was a heavy PSNI and British Army presence in the Ardoyne area before the march, criticised by Sinn Féin Councillor Margaret McClenaghan as heavy-handed. She again called for dialogue between the Orange Orders and nationalist residents' groups.

"In the past, these parades have been nothing but triumphalist flag waving exercises and if loyal orders want to march through nationalist areas they must enter into meaningful talks with residents," she said.

A feeder parade marched to the Ormeau Bridge before boarding buses after it was banned from marching along the nationalist Ormeau Road.

And An Phoblacht has been told that loyalist band members insisted on getting off their buses at Middlepath Street to march along the Newtownards Road past St Matthew's Catholic Church in the Short Strand.



Arsonists destroy homes




A West Belfast family had a lucky escape after car thieves set a car on fire and crashed it into the back of a house in Woodside View in Poleglass at around 5.30am on Monday 21 April.

Malachy Devine, his wife, three children and his granddaughter had been asleep when they were awoken by his 15-year-old daughter Helen, who had heard the tyres on the car exploding.

The family car and a motorbike belonging to Mr Devine also caught fire and exploded, setting fire to the back of the house. The kitchen of the house was destroyed and windows at the back of the house melted.

The car involved was not insured or taxed and is classed as a 'runaround', the type mainly used by death drivers.

Devine said the family could have been burned alive if they hadn't got out of the house. "There is an oil tank next door and if that caught fire, God only knows what would have happened."

Sinn Féin's Michael Ferguson described the attack as 'attempted murder'.

Spokesperson for the group Families Bereaved Through Car Crime, Tommy Holland, said it was ironic that such a dramatic demonstration of the dangers posed by runaround cars had come days after the issue was raised at a community meeting in West Belfast last Thursday.

Meanwhile, three Derry families were left homeless after an early morning arson attack on homes in Galliagh Park on Easter Sunday morning.

A quad bike and a scrambler were set on fire close to an oil tank in the back yard of one of the homes at around 4am, gutting three homes.

Divisional Fire Officer William Lynch said 15 fire fighters and four appliances were on the scene within five minutes but the fire had already spread to two adjoining houses. "We had to fight hard to bring it under control and we also had a running oil fire to deal with. We had to work very quickly to prevent the fire from spreading," he said, adding the potential for loss of lives as a result of the fire was extremely high.

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An Phoblacht
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