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16 November 2000 Edition

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Mac Cionnaith attacked by loyalists

Garvaghy Road spokesperson Breandan Mac Cionnaith was attacked by a group of loyalists in a hotel in Bray, County Wicklow, where he was staying with friends at the weekend. Coincidentally, loyalists from Banbridge and Portadown were staying in the same hotel.

A fracas broke out when loyalists spotted MacCionnaith in the bar. Tables were turned and glasses smashed. Mac Cionnaith was attacked by a woman who attempted to stab him with a broken bottle.

A man, staying at the hotel with his family and MacCionnaith, died of a heart attack during the disturbance. 49-year-old Larry O'Neill, from Portadown, had a history of heart trouble and is believed not to have been involved in the row. He was rushed to hospital but pronounced dead on arrival.

A woman involved in the disturbance was arrested and charged by the Gardaí but later released. The family of the dead man said that the circumstances of his death had compounded their grief but they did not believe he had died as a result of the disturbance.

Dunmurry ``a no go area for Catholics''

Sinn Féin councillor Paul Butler is accusing loyalists of driving Catholics out of Dunmurry village on the outskirts of Belfast.

The Lisburn councillor was speaking after it was revealed that a 25-year-old Poleglass father of two was confronted by a loyalist mob and threatened near the Glebe Road level crossing last Friday night, 10 November.

The motorist had to stop as the barrier was down and the 15-strong mob approached his car. They asked him where he was from and then called him a ``fenian bastard'' before they started hitting the vehicle with bottle and glasses.

According to the man some of the gang spat in his face.

The man who is too frightened to allow his name to be used believes he is very lucky to have escaped without serious injury as the barrier went up and he was able to drive off.

Some damage was caused to his car given the force with which the loyalists were striking the vehicle.

Now Paul Butler, who has been compiling a dossier of attacks in the area, says he will bring the matter to the attention of the Dublin Government. ``In the past month alone Catholic business premises have been burned out, school children attacked and Our Lady of Peace chapel on the outskirts of the village suffered £30,000 damage to its windows which were smashed in with breeze blocks,'' he said. ``This is a very serious and dangerous situation which can't be ignored.''

Meanwhile, Butler is spearheading moves to get the Electoral Office to find a neutral polling station for nationalist voters in the Dunmurry area.

``Due to the campaign of intimidation over the years, nationalists feel they can't cast their vote in the existing station in St Colman's Parochial Hall. We successfully lobbied the electoral office for a neutral polling station for Lagmore residents who had to vote in the loyalist Milltown estate at Deriaghy. So with this in mind we are confident the Electoral Office will accede to our calls,'' said Butler.


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