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29 May 2003 Edition

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Unionists attack Sinn Féin candidate's home

Unionist paramilitaries have attacked the Antrim home of a woman who recently stood for local council elections as a Sinn Féin candidate.

Just after midnight on Sunday 25 May, áine Gribben's home in the Rathenraw estate was attacked by three men who threw bricks and bottles at the house before driving off towards the Steeple area of the town.

"I was already in bed and asleep when I heard banging downstairs," Gribben told An Phoblacht this week. "At first I thought I was dreaming but then I heard it again and realized something was wrong. I rushed down to see what was happening."

Local residents report that the men involved in the assault had been driving a white Rover 500 and actually had the audacity to stop and ask for directions to Gribben's home just prior to the attack.

"They looked like they had a bit of drink on them," said one neighbour, "and when they drove away they didn't even have the car door shut."

Locals took down the vehicles registration number and have passed it on to the PSNI. They also noted that one gang member was carrying a hammer, used to dismantle bricks from a nearby garden wall so the gang could throw them at the Gribben home.

Eight children were in the house at the time of the attack, the youngest only five months old, but fortunately only two of the older children heard anything. Gribben came downstairs to find both badly shaken but unharmed. The home was left with some exterior damage.

Gribbon adds that she had an odd exchange with a PSNI officer who attended the scene.

"He asked me, 'Have you done anything?' I asked him, What do you mean? And he said, 'you know, have you done anything to provolk this sort of attention?' I said, Well, I stood for Sinn Féin in the recent elections, is that provocation? He just turned and walked away from me.

"They didn't search around my home or garden to see that it was safe. In fact, when I pointed out the damage to my house the PSNI told me it was 'only muck'.

Sinn Féin's Martin Meehan said this attack, and others occurring in the Antrim area, are part of an ongoing campaign by unionist paramilitaries.

"They are attempting to provoke a reaction from local nationalist youth in the Greystone and Rathenraw estates of the town," said Meehan. "Residents are deeply concerned that the unionist paramilitary attacks against many Antrim nationalists can be linked to police force saturation in their community.

"I urge all nationalists to remain both calm and vigilant."

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1

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