5 January 2006 Edition
Fires were "mass murder attempt"
Portadown Sinn Féin Councillor Brian McKeown has described Christmas morning arson attacks on homes in the Obins Street area as a "mass murder attempt". A number of homes in Obins Street were badly damaged in the early morning blazes. The area where the fires occurred is adjacent to an interface with loyalist districts in the town and only yards away from where local Catholic man Francis Brown was murdered several years ago by a loyalist bomb.
The Orange Order in Portadown had applied to the Parades Commission for an Orange march along the nearby Garvaghy Road at lunchtime on Christmas Day but were denied permission to do so by the Parades Commission.
McKeown said: "Those responsible for the attacks were intent on causing mass murder. There is no other way to describe the actions of those responsible for putting flammable substances through the letterboxes of homes in the early hours of Christmas morning."
He went on: "People went to the their beds on Christmas Eve with the expectation of waking up to family and religious celebrations on Christmas Day. Instead they were cruelly awakened from their sleep in the early hours of this morning to find their homes ablaze.
"This entire community is in shock after these arson attacks. It is extremely fortunate that no one was injured or, worse still, murdered in the homes, as a result. I have to say that I believe that this was not any sort of scare tactic, but a deliberate and calculated attempt at mass murder.
"There is a very palpable anger around the entire area directed against the mindless morons who were responsible for this. We are very fortunate that several lives were not lost as a result of these sinister actions," said McKeown.