19 March 1998 Edition

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Lurgan woman accuses RIR

By Peadar Whelan

Lurgan woman Cristin McCauley has hit out at the RIR over a bomb attack on her house in the early hours of Saturday morning 14 March.

Ms McCauley told An Phoblacht that she and her husband discovered the shrapnel-packed bomb at about 1.30am as they arrived home from a night out on Friday. Martin McCauley was shot by the RUC in a hayshed outside Lurgan in 1982 when teenager Michael Tighe was killed. The shooting was later investigated by John Stalker.

``My three children aged 11, 10, and 6 were at home with the baby-sitter who is only 17. I was told had the bomb gone off it would have brought the house down,'' Ms McCauley said.

And raising the question of RIR involvement in the attack Cristin said, ``the place was full of RIR all day Friday'' and that at one point a neighbour phoned her at work in a nearby youth club to tell her she thought her house was being raided.

``It turned out they were not raiding the house but three jeeps were pulled right up at the gable end,'' she said.

According to a local taxi driver the RIR had Taghnevan ``as good as sealed off on Friday night, until about 12.30am''.

The driver was stopped three or four times.

Ms McCauley said the device on the doorstep ``was in a box and we could hear it ticking. We phoned the RUC, but it took them ages to arrive. After 30 minutes when they hadn't come up John rang a third time and the RUC were verbally abusive. My husband Martin and Sinn Fein councillor John O'Dowd ended up evacuating the area''.

With the area sealed off and residents evacuated Cristin opened the youth club as a shelter, but even then the crown forces couldn't restrain themselves and blocked people going up. ``Some ended up in neighbours' houses, others on the street till the area was cleared,'' she said.

Cristin said that the following day a young neighbour was stopped by an RIR patrol and one of them warned him, ``we'll have better luck next time''.

Just before Christmas Ms McCauley was stopped by the RIR at a checkpoint and dragged from her car. During her ordeal one RIR soldier, who she maintained was hysterical, threatened her and her solicitor.

Meanwhile the family solicitor Rosemary Nelson criticised the RUC for its handling of the situation saying that as well as failing to react promptly they, ``left important forensic evidence lying at the scene. I retrieved it and handed it over to the RUC. They clearly didn't show sufficient concern for this family'', she said.

A second bomb attack over the weekend was also being blamed on loyalists.
A Catholic woman living in Chichester Square in the predominantly Protestant town of Carrickfergus escaped injury when the bomb exploded outside her home at about 7.30pm on Saturday evening. The woman wasn't injured in the attack, but the house sustained some structural damage. The woman is considering leaving the area. Six weeks ago loyalists attacked another Catholic family in the town forcing them to move out.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1

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