15 March 2001 Edition

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Bombers attack Clonard commemoration


A British Army issue grenade-type device was used to attack a republican commemoration in Belfast last Sunday, 11 March.

The device, which sprays pellets, was thrown over the `peace line' from the Shankill area into the Clonard Memorial Garden at Bombay Street as local people, mostly elderly men and women, gathered to await the annual commemoration march.

According to a steward, who was at the Memorial Garden and witnessed the attack, the device came over the peace wall and landed in the Garden, causing some panic.

The steward pointed out that the RUC, deployed in the area before and during the march, failed to prevent the attack. Albert Allen of the Greater Clonard ex-POWs Group accused the RUC of allowing the loyalists to attack the area at will. ``Loyalist attacks at the Bombay Street `peace line' are a regular occurrence, especially at republican commemorations, and despite knowing this the RUC choose to patrol this area, place mobile support units at the nationalist end of Lanark Way and do nothing to ensure that loyalists from the Shankill could carry out an attack. This incident could have been a lot worse.''

Meanwhile the commemoration parade itself went ahead in torrential rain, attended by up to 200 people, including many relatives of those republican activists commemorated in the Garden.

The centre piece of Sunday's commemoration was the unveiling of plaques of remembrance to all those republican ex-POWs from the area who have died since 1916. Billy O'Neill and Sheila Smith were afforded the honour of unveiling the new plaques. Billy's son Danny was a Volunteer from the area who was shot dead by the British Army. His father Leo and sister Bridie are also remembered on the ex-POWs memorial.

Sheila Smith's father, Peter Burns, was interned in Frongoch after the 1916 Rising and was later OC of the Northern Command. Her two brothers, Peter Jr and Brian, are named on the ex-POWs plaques.

An Phoblacht
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