3 June 1999 Edition
Inaction encouraging loyalist violence
By Laura Friel
Commenting on reports linking the LVF with the murder of Rosemary Nelson, Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams pointed out that several weeks ago he had said the LVF and UDA cessations were over. ``It is patently true,'' he said.
``Loyalist death squads have been involved in a systematic campaign of murder, harassment and intimidation,'' said Adams. Calling on the unionist leadership to abandon its delaying tactics and implement the Agreement, Adams said the political vacuum, which is encouraging the wreckers, must be filled by political progress.
``If unionist inaction is encouraging sectarian attacks, then inaction by the RUC is colluding with the myth that loyalist ceasefires remain in place. Almost three months after the killing of Rosemary Nelson and to date no loyalist has been arrested or questioned in connection with the murder. With over 150 gun and bomb attacks on Catholics within the last year, few loyalists have been questioned and fewer still charged. ``
Calling on the unionist leadership to vigorously oppose attacks on the Catholic community, Adams said exposing the truth and making political progress was the way to tackle ``those who would seek to turn the clock back''.
``The British government needs to order a series of public inquiries and investigations into the killings of Rosemary Nelson, Pat Finucane, Robert Hamill and the Dublin-Monaghan bombs, as well as the Brian Nelson and the guns from South Africa affair,'' said Adams.
Loyalist mobs in vicious assault
Last weekend, a Larne man and his wife and cousin became the latest Catholics from the East Antrim town to be targeted in a sectarian attack by a loyalist mob.
The couple and their two children have now been rehoused further up the Antrim coast, the 13th Catholic family to be driven out of the town, which has become synonymous with bigotry, in recent months.
The trio had gone to a bar in the town for a meal on Saturday 29 May when they were spotted by a 15-strong loyalist mob. Known members of mainstream loyalist groups were among the crowd and assaulted the man, who had gone to the bar for a drink when one of the gang hit him with a bar stool, knocking him to the ground. When his wife and cousin went to his aid both were assaulted then all three were dragged outside.
At this point, the crowd had grown to 30. One of the women, who passed out, said she came to at home in the early hours of the morning. She was vomiting and had a severe headache and went to Antrim hospital where she was kept for observation until 7.30am.
The couple have complained that the RUC didn't take the assault on them seriously and that their investigation is inadequate.
The RUC accepted the version of the attack given them by the loyalists at the scene and refused to demand video tapes from the bar owners, tapes that could have revealed exactly what happened.
An Phoblacht has been told that the bar owners blatantly refused to hand over the tapes.
We were also told that the Catholic man told the RUC he could identify some of his assailants but the officers showed no interest in taking the information from him.
Only last week in Larne's Craigyhill estate, a bomb factory, the possible source of the bombs used in the numerous attacks on Catholics in Larne, was uncovered by the RUC.
So far, the RUC have refused to disclose information about the bomb factory, neither confirming nor denying that the bombs were similar to those used in the East Antrim area over recent months.
Three attacks in two days drive families from their homes
Families from the Parkhall estate in Antrim, Nelson Drive in Derry and Moorlough Road in Strabane have become the latest targets of loyalist murder gangs.
In Antrim, a family of four, two adults and two children believed to be from England were asleep when a blast bomb was thrown at their Corbally Park home on Monday night 31 May.
No one was injured but the family has decided to leave their house. After the bomb exploded, the family had to make their escape through the back of the house as the front hall was engulfed in flames. All four were treated for smoke inhalation.
Two other attacks on houses in Derry's Nelson Drive and Strabane were directed at Catholic families. A 63-year-old woman and four sons escaped injury when a petrol bomb exploded against her Moorlough Road home outside Strabane in the early hours of Tuesday 1June.
Earlier, at about 11.30pm on Monday, a petrol-bomb attack in the Nelson Drive area of Derry caused scorch damage to a Catholic-owned home. The attack is said to have been carried out by loyalist paramilitaries.
Attempted murder on Belfast youth
A gang of five loyalists ambushed a 17-year-old Catholic youth, Patrick O'Connor from Poleglass, as he travelled home from his friends in Twinbrook at 10pm on Sunday night, 30 May.
The youth was ambushed at the footbridge over the Stewartstown Road by the loyalists, who demanded to know if he was a ``Fenian'' then began to seriously assault him after they discovered him wearing a Celtic top.
The loyalists forced the young lad to drink cider and poured some of the alcohol over him before threatening to smash the bottles across his head. The beating they gave Patrick was so severe that he was left unconscious. Two other young men who discovered Patrick over an hour later, brought him home from where he was taken to hospital.
He was diagnosed as suffering concussion and severe bruising and was found to have high levels of alcohol in his blood.
Patrick's grandfather told An Phoblacht that this is the second time loyalists have targeted his family. His son and Patrick's uncle, Gerard McLaughlin, was shot dead by loyalists in 1975.
He also said that this is the second such assault in the area in the past two weeks.
Sinn Féin councillor for the area Michael Ferguson has warned young people to be vigilant.