5 April 2001 Edition

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Loyalists kill one, injure others

A series of loyalist attacks over the weekend left one man dead and a number of other people, including a 51-year-old woman, seriously ill in hospital.

The man who died was Thomas Lowry from Hightown Rise in Glengormley. In the mistaken belief that their victim was a Catholic, a loyalist gang attacked and seriously injured the 49-year-old electrician just after midnight on Sunday morning, 1 April. The gang had been roaming the area in a white Escort car, registration number MXI 4115, and had already attempted to abduct another man from the nearby St Enda's GAA club.

Lowry died on Tuesday 3 April. According to Sinn Féin representative for the area, Roisin McGurk, a number of people saw the car in the area and recognised one of the men in it as a ``loyalist paramilitary with links to the UDA''.

McGurk went on to say that the man the loyalists initially tried to abduct, who didn't wish to be identified, said the car was sitting outside the club waiting for ``the first person to came out''.

The man leaving St Enda's escaped by clambering over a grass verge to avoid the gang. A number of teenagers spotted the car following them as they tried to go into the Harmin area and they had to take a detour through Glengormley to get home safely.

``This is obviously the most serious incident in the area since Gerry Devlin was shot dead by the LVF in December 1997. However, the number of loyalist attacks on young people and homes has been on the increase in the past number of years and it was only a matter of time before someone lost their life,'', said Roisin McGurk.

The other weekend attacks were all carried out in the New Lodge Road area of Belfast.

A loyalist gang from Tiger's Bay drove along Spamount Street just after midnight and assaulted four people. 51-year-old Mary Campbell suffered the most serious injuries when she was beaten about the head with pickaxe handles. A piece of bone lodged in Mrs Campbell's head and she had to undergo emergency surgery in the Royal Victoria Hospital.

Mrs Campbell, who lives in Spamount Street, had just arrived home when she was attacked. The gang, who had arrived in the area in a silver car, possibly a Vectra, smashed in the windows of Mrs Campbell's neighbour Mrs McKinney's home.

After her windows were smashed in, Mrs McKinney described how other neighbours came to Mrs Campbell's rescue, ``Mary was covered in blood and some of the neighbours were supporting her on the window sill''.

Just half an hour earlier, the loyalists had set about 14-year-old John Madden from a nearby street. He was returning home with a friend when three loyalists jumped from the car and made a grab for them. His friend escaped but John was caught. ``They were grown men and as they beat me they called me a `fenian bastard','' said John.

As he lay on the ground he was beaten about the head and body by the loyalists. As well as suffering injuries to his head and face John's arm was fractured and three of his fingers broken.

John thinks that people coming into the street frightened the gang as they jumped into their car and drove off, although when they spotted a couple further down the street they beat them also. Both the man and woman attacked needed hospital treatment for their injuries.

Speaking to An Phoblacht, Sinn Féin's Gerry Kelly accused the UDA of involvement in the attacks. Kelly said that tension had been building in the area throughout the day and that loyalists had thrown petrol bombs at nationalist children. ``People are worried that the loyalists were upping the ante on the 1,000th day of the Drumcree protest.''

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1