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18 November 1999 Edition

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Sectarian arson attack

By Laura Friel

A Catholic pensioner, Hillary Miller, who has lived in the predominantly Protestant Irish Street estate in the Waterside area of Derry, remains in a critical condition after a loyalist petrol attack on her home. The 82-year-old woman's daughter also called Hillary, is also critical after the sectarian attack. A son described as being in a serious but stable condition after the attack has since been released from hospital. The family were sleeping in the early hours of Saturday, 13 November, when petrol was poured through the front door of their Bann Drive house and set alight.

Fire fighters using breathing apparatus rescued the three family members after being alerted to the blaze. The pensioner and her daughter were rushed to Altnagelvin Hospital, where they are being treated for serious burns and smoke inhalation, although the pensioner has since been moved to Coleraine Hospital. The son's injuries have been described as less life threatening. The family are one of only two Catholic families still living in the Irish Street estate.

Derry Sinn Féin Councillor Lynn Fleming described the arson attack as another step in the efforts of loyalist organisations to create Catholic-free areas. ``We are witnessing naked sectarianism designed to kill and intimidate Catholic families and drive them from their homes,'' she said.

Fleming pointed out that the targets of this latest sectarian attack had lived in the Waterside area for over 50 years: ``Sectarianism from whatever source is wrong and should be challenged at every opportunity. Those responsible for this latest murderous attempt are determined to terrorise vulnerable members of the nationalist community. I would appeal to unionist politicians and representatives to use their influence to bring this campaign to an immediate end.''

Meanwhile, the UDA in Derry is blaming the attack on the UVF, which has resulted in a war of words between the loyalists groupings.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1

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