29 April 2004 Edition

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UDA behind attempt to kill Catholic family

The UDA were behind an attempt to kill a Catholic family after three shots were fired at their home in Ballynahinch, County Down in the early hours of Thursday 22 April.

A 34-year-old man and his three children barricaded themselves into an upstairs bedroom of the house in Calbert Way in the Langley Estate. Two bullets shattered a living room window, showering the father with glass.

Sinn Féin councillor Francis Braniff hit out at Democratic Unionist Party MLA Jim Wells who, in an attempt to gloss over the seriousness of the sectarian attack, described it as "hooligan activity that was meant to intimidate rather than injure".

Said Braniff: "This shooting is the latest attempt by the UDA to instil fear in the nationalist population of Ballynahinch. It was only luck that prevented death or serious injury to a young family.

"The comments of Jim Wells are nothing short of disgraceful and expose the hypocrisy and double standards of both himself and his party".

Braniff also criticised SDLP Assembly member Margaret Ritchie, who suggested the shooting was an unusual occurrence in the area.

"Ritchie obviously has no understanding or empathy for nationalists living in Ballynahinch who have for years lived under the threat of loyalist violence," he retorted. "In estates like Langley Road, the UDA are very active and as we enter another loyalist marching season, nationalists have every reason to be fearful."

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