13 September 2000 Edition

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Deaths narrowly avoided

Attacks carried out last Saturday, 9 September, on the homes of two nationalist families living in the Ormeau Road area of Belfast could have cost five people, three of them children, their lives.

At 4.30am on Saturday morning, people living in Rutland Street were awakened by the sound of breaking glass.

Loyalists, who had arrived at the street, which runs off the Lower Ormeau Road, were attempting to burn one of the houses. The attackers tried to pour petrol through the letter box to set a fire and when they failed, they smashed windows of the randomly selected house and threw coke bottles full of petrol at the front window.

One of the bombs exploded and burned a lace curtai. Fortunately the fire didn't ignite into the type of inferno that killed the three young Quinn children on the Carnanny estate in Ballymoney two years ago. The young couple and their three youngsters inside count themselves lucky to have escaped uninjured.

Their neighbour, Cathy Magee, whose house was also targeted, told An Phoblacht that she heard the glass breaking and when she ran out to the street saw the smoke billowing up from the front door of her neighbour's house.

She said her own house had its front window smashed but there was no evidence that the loyalists intended fire bombing her home. As she spoke, her voice trailed off as she contemplated the danger she and her children aged, nine, six and 18 months had been in.

The three attackers arrived on the Ormeau Road at about 4.30am. After they carried out their attack, they made their escape in a maroon Ford Mondeo, driving towards the Annadale Embankment and its flats complex, a notorious UDA area.

``The families living in these houses could have been killed in this double attack'', said Sinn Féin councillor Sean Hayes.

Only last week, a man returning from a night out was savagely beaten in nearby Farnham Street. Loyalists, wielding hammers, jumped from a car and set about the man. Only the quick response of alert neighbours saved him from more severe injuries, if not death, in what was a ferocious attack.

Thugs torch black taxis

Thugs are being blamed for six fire-bomb attacks in West Belfast which were carried out in the early hours of Sunday morning, 10 September.

Five black taxis and a community bus were torched in the Greater Andersonstown area in attacks that are being seen as part of a campaign by hoods intent on destroying the community.

Jim Neeson, chair of the West Belfast Taxi Association, was adamant that the thugs behind the fire bombings targeted his members ``as a way of attacking the community.

``I have no idea what these people were thinking about when they carried out these attacks,'' he told An Phoblacht. ``All I know is that five people are out of jobs now; these thugs have put them off the road''.

Neeson explained that the problem facing the drivers concerned was that, according to the compensation agency, they cannot claim `criminal damage compensation' if they cannot prove that ``a terrorist organisation was involved''.

One of the drivers, an ex-POW, is in a double bind given British legislation that refuses compensation to former prisoners.

Meanwhile, a community bus used to transport pensioners and children was also torched in the Tullymore area.

``Our communities have faced so much from the British Army, the RUC and loyalists over the past 30 years. We shouldn't have to deal with attacks from within, from our own people'', one community worker told An Phoblacht.

Secrets and lives


Secret documents which detail just who knew what about murder plots carried out by loyalist paramilitaries against republicans and nationalists in the North of Ireland during the 1980s and 1990s have been handed over to the Stevens' team investigating crown force collusion in the killing of Belfast lawyer Pat Finucane.

Despite the fact that these documents related directly to the covert British army unit, the FRU, whose activities are under scrutiny, the Stevens' team was left officially unaware until alerted by a former FRU soldier, turned whistle blower, of their existence.

The classified documents were requested and received by the Stevens' team a month ago and are expected to lead to a number of arrests. The Steven's team is said to be poised to arrest 30 former members of the FRU, including their commander, John Gordon Kerr.

Kerr, known only as `Colonel J', appeared as the chief defence witness during the trial of FRU agent Brian Nelson. During the trial, the colonel praised Nelson's role in `saving' lives. Nelson was subsequently convicted on five counts of conspiracy to murder, including that of Pat Finucane.

Following Nelson's exposure of the FRU, the unit was disbanded (later to be reconstructed under a different name). Colonel `J' was later promoted to brigadier and is currently serving as British military attache in Beijing.

The documents, which have been described as ``the most sensitive military papers'' in relation to the North of Ireland, record the movement of all intelligence. The so-called ``secret books'' are said to chart just who knew what and when for each individual murder plot.

The records might even include details of the FRU plot to sabotage the first Stevens inquiry. In 1990, a fire gutted the operations room of the Stevens' team as they were poised to arrest Brian Nelson. A former FRU agent has claimed that a unit specially trained in covert entry was behind the arson attack.

The documents are also likely to shed light on the role of RUC Special Branch, whose agent, William Stobie, has been implicated in the Finucane killing. The files detail information passed by the FRU to the RUC and MI5 as well as information withheld by the British Army.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1