Issue 1 - 2023 front

8 May 2003 Edition

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UDA ceasefire! What ceasefire?

The UDA ceasefire has once again been called into question after its members attacked the hideaway home of former UDA leader Johnny Adair's exiled wife Gina in Bolton, Greater Manchester on Wednesday 30 April.

UDA gunmen fired five shots through the downstairs window of the house on Chorley New Road, where Gina Adair and her children were staying. No one was injured.

It is thought the gunmen travelled from the Six Counties to England via Scotland under the guise of Rangers supporters.

Adair her children and a band of supporters fled Belfast after they were forced out of their stronghold in the Lower Shankill area of Belfast by the UDA intent on avenging the killing of UDA chief John Gregg, at the height of an internal UDA feud. They travelled to Scotland before moving down to parts of England.

The bitter power struggle between Adair and his rivals in the UDA erupted last year after he was expelled from the group and as tensions heightened Adair was ordered back to Maghaberry Prison near Lisburn in January. Weeks later, Gregg and another UDA man, Robert Carson, were shot dead at Belfast docks as they returned from a Glasgow Rangers match.

The paramilitary organisation has vowed to pursue those they blame for Gregg's killing.

In a statement issued by the UDA under the cover name of the UFF, they said an active service unit attempted to oust members of the Adair faction in Bolton, England, as a result of an ongoing investigation into the killing of John Gregg and Robert Carson by Adair and his associates.

"At the same time, another section of the same faction were moved from the Shankill area. As the investigation continues and more evidence is uncovered, action will be taken against anyone providing guns or a safe haven for these outcasts. They will be moved on wherever they are" said the statement.

Community worHker threatened for third time

Unionist paramilitaries sent death threats to a voluntary worker at West Belfast's Féile an Phobail for the third time this year.

Staff at Féile House on Belfast's Falls Road received the threat through the post on Monday 28 April in an envelope addressed to community activist and Féile worker Sean Osborne.

The sinister threat containing Osborne's personal details was in the envelope as was a photograph of Osborne attending a picket, taken from a Sunday newspaper.

Osborne handed the threat to his solicitor.

This is the third death threat he has received from the UDA, despite that organisation claiming to be on ceasefire.

"In February the PSNI visited my home to tell me I was being targeted by the UDA because of my involvement in anti-drugs campaigns and now I have been threatened again. What I want to know is who is leaking my details to these people?"

Féile director Carol Jackson said this was a threat against people working to improve the quality of life in West Belfast and comes at a very busy time of the year for staff at Féile.

Sectarian attack on schoolchildren

Three Catholic schoolchildren received hospital treatment after being attacked by loyalists from the lower Shankill estate while waiting for a bus outside St Malachy's College on the Antrim road in North Belfast.

Parents have called for the bus stop to be moved after the 12-year-old boys were attacked on Tuesday 29 April at Carlisle Circus, as they stood just yards from their school.

One of the schoolboys was rushed to the nearby Mater hospital for treatment, while another was kept in overnight.

"My son is only a first year and was badly shaken by the attack, he had two large bumps on his head and had to take the next day off school," said one angry parent. "The fact this sectarian attack happened in broad daylight makes it even more worrying. Translink should move the stop to deter Protestants from attacking children."

St Malachy's College principal, Dr John Morrin, said the college is concerned that students should be attacked in this way. "Over the past 12 months we have been speaking with Translink with the view of moving the bus stop to a safer place, and I hope it is resolved quickly," he said.

And an Antrim mother has accused loyalists of attempting to force her 15-year-old son out of Antrim town.
The woman and boy are both Protestant, while the boy's father is Catholic. The family live on the nationalist Rathenraw estate.

The woman who is too frightened to be identified, was speaking after her son, Paul, was verbally abused by a group of loyalists at a shopping centre on Saturday 3 May, just weeks after the boy was hospitalised and had his nose broken in a sectarian attack outside his school.

"I sent my son to a Protestant school but he had to leave because of harassment from loyalists. They then started to wait for him outside the Catholic school we sent him to. He had his nose broken four weeks ago when they attacked him outside the school."

Loyalists confronted the mother and son in the shopping centre and started taunting the schoolboy, admitting that they were the ones who had broken his nose. "Paul only escaped being beaten up again because people intervened," said the woman.

The woman said the attacks have led to her son taking panic attacks and being too afraid to leave his home, "Saturday was the first time Paul left the house in ages; the whole thing is making his life a misery."

Celtic player receives threatening calls

Celtic football player Neil Lennon has been targeted by a series of menacing calls made to his mobile phone.

The threats come just months after the player quit the Six-County soccer team following death threats from the LVF in August.

A Strathclyde police spokesperson said "police received complaints regarding nuisance phone calls" which are now under investigation.

Lennon turned his back on international football after he was threatened by the LVF last year, just hours before he was due to lead the North of Ireland football team in a friendly against Cyprus at Windsor Park.

Lennon said he feared the threats could follow him when he returned to Celtic duties and even considered leaving the Scottish club.

McGuinness taped by Special Branch in Derry

The former RUC Special Branch officer at the centre of leaking transcripts of secretly recorded conversations between Sinn Féin's Martin McGuinness and British Ministers was based in Derry, it has been revealed.

The 48-year-old had been a Special Branch detective and eavesdropping monitor in Derry, which included studying bugged conversations with leading republicans, including Martin McGuinness.

The former RUC man, who was arrested last week and charged under the Official Secrets Act, was bailed to appear in court at a later date.

The transcripts of telephone conversations between the Mid Ulster MP, the former British Secretary of State Mo Mowlam and Downing Street chief of Staff Jonathan Powell, were published in a book last week, suggesting McGuinness is still being bugged by the British security services.

The investigation into the leak resulted in the co-authors of the book being questioned and released on bail.

A Sinn Féin spokesperson told The Times newspaper that evidence of spying by the British system will surprise no one. The newspaper claims the bugging was part of a security operation called Narcotic 1, started in 1997 and still in operation.

Children arrested for playing football

Sinn Féin's Danny Lavery has criticised the PSNI after eight Catholic schoolchildren were charged with playing football in Kansas Avenue in North Belfast over the past year.

The children were charged at different times over the year with behaviour likely to cause a breach of the peace and have been summoned to appear at Belfast Magistrates Court. One of the children appeared in court last week only for the case against him to be thrown out.

"The PSNI are making fools of themselves. I have never heard of anything so ridiculous in all my life, but the cops are determined to drag the kids through the courts," said one parent.

Sinn Féin councillor for North Belfast, Danny Lavery, said: "The PSNI bring children to court for playing football, but they can't catch members of the UDA who have thrown 400 pipe bombs and attacked Catholic homes in the past year. They haven't stopped the UDA godfathers who are extorting money from local businesses and selling drugs to school children on street corners."

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