2 October 2003 Edition

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Family may leave the North after second sectarian attack

A couple and their four-month-old baby say they are considering leaving the Six Counties after a second sectarian attack directed against them.

Charlene Smyth, her partner Patrick McDonald and their child were at their Ashvale Heights home in Stoneyford, near Lisburn, when loyalists smashed windows in the sitting room and glass in the front door at around 1am on Saturday 20 September. UVF slogans and other sectarian graffiti were sprayed on a wall.

The family heard thuds at the front of their home but were to scared to move.

"When we heard them we thought they were in the house and I thought they were going to kill us in our beds," said Charlene Smyth. "I have never been so scared in my life."

Smyth said this is the second sectarian attack on her family. "We only moved into this house four weeks ago after being forced to leave our home in Dundrod four months ago because loyalists poured petrol through the letter box and wrote sectarian graffiti on the walls of that house," she revealed.

Smyth said the motive could only be sectarian as they have been told the reason for the sectarian attacks is because her partner is Catholic.

The family said they will have to consider moving from the North altogether.

"We are afraid that wherever we go these people will follow and we are not prepared to hang around to find out. We have a child to consider."

Sinn Féin councillor Paul Butler told An Phoblacht that unionist paramilitaries in the Stoneyford and the Lisburn area are orchestrating a campaign of intimidation designed to drive Catholics from the areas.

"The campaign is being driven by a senior unionist paramilitary associated with the Orange Volunteer Force," he said.

Butler said a number of Catholics were leaving Stoneyford because of the intimidation and referred to the recent closure of a Catholic-owned business and the sectarian attacks on the local chapel with pipe and petrol bombs.

"If we add to these attacks the sectarian graffiti and the erection of Orange Volunteer flags, it is clear to see that there are those intent on intimidating the Catholic population," he said.

Butler will lead a delegation of party members in a meeting with a representative of the Dublin government on Thursday 2 October to discuss the situation in the Lisburn area.

"The situation within Lisburn Council chamber were they discriminate against nationalist representatives is encouraging unionist paramilitaries to continue with their sectarian attacks," he said.

"We will bring the representative around the areas to let him see for himself what is happening to Catholics, and will presenting him with a dossier of intimidation and attacks and the ongoing situation within the council."

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1

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