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13 June 1997 Edition

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Loyalist mobs target homes and schools

Woman dies in hospital as her home is attacked

By Mick Naughton

In the early hours of Sunday morning 8 June loyalists attacked the home of a Larne Catholic family with breeze blocks and other missiles. While the attack was being carried out a member of the family, Roseanne Rodgers, died in hospital.

Roseanne Rogers had been receiving medical treatment over the past few months and her son, who was in the house when the loyalists attacked, suffered cuts and bruises and was forced to flee the Linn Road home.

Sinn Féin's East Antrim constituency representative Chrissie McAuley said that it was clearly another sectarian attack aimed at driving out the small Catholic population from the mainly loyalist coastal town:

``The Ulster Unionist MP for Larne Roy Beggs has been conspicuous by his silence after the news of the attack as Roseanne Rodgers lay dying in hospital.

``Two years ago this same MP was blocking roads protesting about Drumcree and the rights of the Orange Order. Where was his concern over the death of Mrs Rodgers and the injuries to her son?''

At the time of the Larne attack another loyalist gang was homing in on the Limestone Road area of North Belfast. Using iron bars they smashed the front windows of Catherine Ramsey's home. She is a mother of four living at the interface area of Parkend Street, just off the Limestone Road.

But for the quick thinking of her partner Patrick McGuinness who pulled down drop bars, the gang could have gained entry to their home. Ramsey said this was the latest in a series of attacks emanating from the nearby loyalist Tigers Bay area.

``I was so afraid. The last attack happened six weeks ago, when eight families were put out in one night, but I thought it was OK. Your first instinct is to run and hide, but Patrick went to the door and pulled the drop bars across to stop them getting into the house.''

McGuinness is awaiting a liver transplant at Kings College London and is worried that the loyalists will return while he is away from home receiving urgent medical tests. He had only returned from London prior to Saturday's attack.

Last weekend's attack was the seventh on this Catholic home since last December, attacks which have left the young children terrified. In a previous attack Ramsey's young daughter Chloe had her bedroom window smashed by thugs using bottles and bricks.

Recently local Sinn Fein Councillor Bobby Lavery brought Northern Ireland Office Civil Representative Colin Dunlop around the area explaining the nature of the loyalist attacks which look set to increase as Drumcree Mark 3 looms. Lavery told An Phoblacht:

``I explained the problems and introduced him to the residents but nothing was suggested by him, despite the fact that he controls a budget and has authority to move immediately on a problem arising out of what the British government term `civil unrest'.

``There have been countless attacks on the Limestone itself, but also Parkend Street, Parkside Gardens and Newington. Sinn Fein is working closely with the local community to prevent these attacks.''

Bottles and bricks were also used a mile away as loyalists indulged in another frenzied attack on a Catholic primary school on the upper Crumlin Road. Holy Cross girls primary school had 35 windows smashed in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Parents of Catholic schoolchildren have rallied round to escort their children both to and from school but are unable to do anything when darkness falls, given the school's location adjacent to a loyalist area.

Local Sinn Féin Councillor Mick Conlon surveyed the damage on Monday morning and warned that further similar attacks could develop at any time, given the geography of the area:

``Last year the nearby girls secondary school had its roof completely burnt down twice during the summer months. Loyalists appear free to roam at will along the Crumlin and Ballysillan Roads despite hundreds of British troops being deployed in North Belfast. While Ardoyne is swamped with them, loyalists are gleefully wrecking childrens schools. I would call upon recently elected loyalist representatives to address this problem if they are serious about their recent remarks deploring anti-Catholic attacks.''


An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1