23 September 1999 Edition
North Antrim bomb attacks
Loyalists in North Antrim continued their offensive against Catholics in the area last week with three bomb attacks, two in Ballycastle and one in Ballymoney.
The past number of weeks have seen constant activity on the part of loyalists. During one arson attack, a message proclaiming both the UDA's and the UVF's ceasefires to be over was painted on a wall.
On Wednesday, 15 September, an incendiary device exploded in the doorway of a Catholic furniture shop in the seaside town of Ballycastle, causing extensive damage and placing the lives of the five people living above the shop in grave danger.
A second device was discovered at an off-licence in the town but was defused. The third device was found by staff at the Credit Union in Ballymoney and was also made safe.
The town of Ballycastle has been the scene of many sectarian attacks this year. This increase in loyalist activity is linked to a large degree to a decision by local nationalists to prevent a loyalist parade organised by a UVF band from marching through the town during the summer.
The home of local Sinn Féin councillor, James McCarry, has been targeted and attacked on numerous occasions by the UVF, who have also sent him bullets in the post.
These latest attacks have occurred in a week when it was claimed in court that the UVF were involved in the murder of the three Quinn children in Ballymoney. Earlier this year, the UVF in North Antrim boasted to the media that they had a supply of new weaponry, including an anti-tank weapon.
Baby survives loyalist attack
A three-month-old baby had a lucky escape when its Springfield Road home in Belfast came under attack from loyalists on Monday evening, 20 September.
The baby's mother, Marion Crane, explained that she had been watching Coronation Street when she heard a smashing noise: ``I didn't know what it was. At first I thought it was a firework. When I looked out the window I saw two fellas on bikes heading back down Lanark Way into the Shankill. They had smashed the side bay window with a bit of wood'', she said.
She described how her three-month-old child, Megan, was sleeping in the pram beside the window. She conveyed her fear that sometime they will use a petrol bomb or a pipe-bomb.
Sectarian attacks have become a nightly occurrence in this area, with Marion Crane's house seeing some of the worst of the attacks. Her home, which is the last house before Lanark Way, which links the loyalist Shankill and nationalist Springfield Road areas, comes under constant attack, with her car being damaged and her roof being attacked with bricks and bottles.
She explained that she has to dry her child's nappies indoors because of the fear of bricks being thrown over the peaceline into her backyard. ``We have lived here over two years but it is no way to bring up children. They are too afraid to sleep on their own because of the bricks and bottles hitting the roof almost every night.''
Loyalists attack teenager
The father of a 15-year-old boy attacked by loyalists in the Finaghy area of South Belfast last week said: ``I don't know what can be done but if something isn't done soon I'm afraid someone is going to be killed.''
Loyalists from the nearby Taughmonagh estate are behind a growing number of sectarian attacks in the area with the latest being the assault on the young paperboy, the second time the teenager has been targeted.
His father, who wished to remain anonymous, said that the first attack occurred in August, when his son and two friends were attacked at Finaghy crossroads. The second attack took place early last week when he was attacked by two men in broad daylight while doing his paper round near the Kings Hall.
The teenager's father said: ``My children are afraid to go around the corner to the shops at Finaghy crossroads because of the incidents. Things have become so bad that a residents meeting was organised in the local Methodist church hall to discuss ways of addressing the problem.
He man also criticised the inactivity of the RUC, who say that there is nothing more that they can do.
Mixed couples targeted in Derry
Derry city Sinn Fein councillor Lynn Fleming has described a recent petrol bomb attacks in the city as marking ``an upsurge in the efforts of loyalist organisations to create Catholic-free areas''.
The attacks took place in the early hours of Friday 17 September in the Waterside area of Derry. Homes and cars of people involved in mixed relationships in the Kilfennan area were targeted.
Fire officers attending one of the petrol bomb attacks at Winchester Park said that the couple living in the house were lucky to be alive. A second house was damaged when a petrol bomb was thrown at the front door. A Honda car was also damaged after being hit by a petrol bomb.
Councillor Fleming said: ``These petrol bombings reflect an ongoing campaign of attacks which have been taking place with increasing frequency in areas right across the north where Catholics are in the minority. What we are witnessing is naked sectarianism, which is designed to intimidate Catholics and their partners and drive them from their homes.
``Sectarianism from whatever source is wrong and should be challenged at every opportunity. Those responsible for these latest murderous attempts are determined to terrorise vulnerable members of our community and I would appeal to unionist politicians and representatives to use their influence to bring this campaign to an immediate end.''
LVF threaten nationalists
Seven nationalists, including five elected representatives in the Upper Bann area, have received threats from the LVF in the form of a Christmas card.
The threats were addressed to Sinn Féin's Francie Murray, Dara O'Hagan and John O'Dowd as well as Garvaghy Road residents spokespersons Breandán MacCionnaith and Joe Duffy. Two other men were also threatened.
The front cover of the card was emblazoned with a red hand and the letters LVF, with a further inscription saying ``Loyalist Volunteer Force lead the way - Merry Christmas''.
Inside the card was an inscription addressed to the representatives saying ``Belated greetings. We're watching you. We haven't gone away.''
What is sinister about the threat is that one of those threatened was told by the RUC on the day Rosemary Nelson was murdered that he ``would be next''.