16 August 2001 Edition
Sectarian attacks continue
BY LAURA FRIEL
Sectarian attacks continued across the north this week.
On Monday, a 12-year-old Catholic schoolboy was attacked by three youths in South Belfast. The incident happened at the junction of Rosetta Road and Wynchurch Road at 8.40pm. The boy was approached by the three youths and questioned about his religion before being beaten.
On the same night, two Catholic homes on the outskirts of Glengormley, North Belfast, were targeted when devices containing fireworks were thrown at the rear of houses in the predominantly loyalist Mossvale Road near Corrs Corner at 9.30pm and 10.50pm. A third suspect device was later declared a hoax.
In the early hours of Saturday morning, a bus returning from Slaughtneil GAA club, the venue of a weekly disco, to Bellaghy, was pelted with bottles and stones. The attack took place as the bus carrying young people passed a loyalist area in Maghera. Several windows were broken but no one was injured.
In an act of sectarian vandalism in Randalstown, a vehicle belonging to a Catholic family living in the Glenkeen area was damaged when two petrol bombs were thrown into it.
Meanwhile, a pipe bomb attack on a pub in Garvagh has been linked to restrictions placed on an Apprentice Boys march by the Parades Commission. Coleraine mayor John Dallat claimed that loyalists had planted the device after feeder parades and the main parade in Derry was warned to control drunken behaviour during the parades.
Catholic residents in Bombay Street in West Belfast, who have been persistently targeted by loyalists for attack, are furious that planning delays are preventing them from moving to a safer location. Over ten families are scheduled to be rehoused in a new development in Springfield Road but planning permission for the site has yet to be granted.
During the most recent sectarian attack last Tuesday night, a number of petrol bombs and stones were thrown across the peaceline from the loyalist side of Cupar's Way.
The UDA are behind a series of attacks in lower Lenadoon, says Sinn Féin Councillor Gerard O'Neill. In one of the most serious incidents, which took place last Monday night, a 40-year-old man was attacked by hammer-wielding loyalists.
Liam McKenna was walking home along the Suffolk Road when he was jumped from behind and hit on the head with a hammer. The stricken man was lying face down in a puddle when a passerby discovered him. Left for dead by the mob, Liam had lain unconscious for over two hours before being found.
Liam was rushed to hospital where doctors discovered his temperature to be dangerously low. The injured man was told he was just four degrees away from getting hypothermia. He remained in hospital for five days recovering from injuries that included hammer blows to his back and head.
Days later, residents in the nearby Doon Road were woken when loyalists from the Suffolk estate, armed with hammers, went on the rampage in the nationalist Lower Lenadoon, smashing cars and terrifying local people. The gang later fled towards the loyalist Blacks Road.
Loyalists again targeted Holy Cross Catholic Primary School, North Belfast, when a suspicious device was discovered outside the school gates. The device was discovered at around 11am on Thursday. It was later declared a hoax.A pipe bomb discovered in Newtownstewart by a man walking his dog was defused.
More trouble on Limestone Road
Three nationalists were injured in a blast bomb explosion as trouble flared in the Limestone Road area of North Belfast on Monday 13 August.
On Monday afternoon at about 3pm, loyalists from the Tiger's Bay area attacked a busload of children as they returned from a fun day out at Bangor as part of a local festival.
Sinn Féin's Cathy Stanton said that although there had been sporadic trouble during the day between young people from Tiger's Bay and nationalists from the Limestone Road area, the worst of the fighting started when the loyalists attacked the bus. According to Stanton, the loyalists then moved on up the Limestone and attacked houses in Newington Street and Parkside.
``It was only when these gangs of loyalists bombarded the houses in Newington Street with missiles that the nationalist residents came out to defend their property. As usual the RUC sat and watched as the loyalists attacked these homes and only moved in, facing the Catholics, when they moved to defend themselves.''
It was at this point that a blast bomb was thrown from the loyalist side. It exploded injuring three people - two teenagers suffered shock, while an adult was taken to hospital with shrapnel wounds.
RUC provoked Ballymena trouble
Sinn Féin's Philip McGuigan is blaming the RUC for provoking a night of violence in the Fisherwick Estate in Ballymena.
The estate is the only mainly nationalist estate in the town and has seen loyalist violence over the past month and a DUP-inspired picket because nationalists dared fly a Tricolour.
On Saturday, according to McGuigan, the RUC came into the estate and arrested a man at a bonfire site and during the day a steady stream of RUC patrols was in and out of the estate.
``All they were doing was raising tension in the place,'' said McGuigan. ``That night, when the bonfire was lit, the RUC again came into the estate, this time wearing riot gear and shining search lights at people gathered at the fire. The people just basically reacted to what they saw as provocation and started to stone and throw paint bombs at the RUC.''
McGuigan said that the RUC batoned charged the crowd and injured a number of men. Criticising the SDLP, who blamed the trouble on republicans, McGuigan said, ``the SDLP should have more sense than to run with a unionist line, especially given the abuse, including a pipe bomb campaign, that has been directed at Catholics over the past number of years but which has intensified in recent months''.
Loyalists attack Ballynahinch teenagers
Eight masked loyalists wielding baseball bats and iron bars attacked a number of teenagers in a fast food restaurant in Ballynahinch on Tuesday 14 August.
The group of eight teenagers, aged around 14, had just come back from a party in Newcastle.
Most of the group escaped but three were cornered in the chippy and beaten. One was a Protestant lad, who suffered severe bruising and felt dizzy after the attack.
Sinn Féin Francie Braniff told An Phoblacht that the loyalists were grown men cruising the town looking for someone to attack. The loyalists were using three cars, one of which was parked in the street, and when the teenagers were spotted the others came from the car park behind the White Horse night club and set about the teenagers.
Braniff also warned nationalists in the Drumaness area to be vigilant as loyalists had attempted to abduct a mother of five in the area two weeks before.
The woman was returning from a night out when two known loyalists followed her in a car. When the woman became suspicious she ran to a nearby house and banged on the door. The loyalists then sped off.
The following week, on 28 July, a 15-year-old boy had been targeted by loyalists but spotted them in time. Braniff says loyalists have also been cruising the area of the Drumaness GAA club looking for people.
Loyalists attempt to kill community worker
Sinn Féin councillor Danny Lavery is accusing the UDA of being behind an attempt to kill a community worker in the Whitewell area of North Belfast on Tuesday 14 August.
According to Lavery, the RUC arrived at the door of the community worker and informed him that a loyalist group had said they threw a pipe bomb at him in an attempt to kill him. The man knew nothing about any such attack, but some time later a pipe bomb was found in the garden of a house that he had visited.
``The man is clearly shocked at this attack. He is a respected community worker and this attack was an attempt to kill him,'' said Lavery, who blamed the UDA.
Meanwhile, the home of a Catholic family in Ingledale Gardens in the Upper Crumlin Road was targeted by loyalist bombers. A pipe bomb exploded in their garden of the house at 11.45pm on Tuesday 14 August.
No one was injured and the house suffered some damage in an attack that is being blamed on the UDA.
These latest attacks came just hours before Sinn Féin's Alex Maskey released a report documenting some 200 attacks on Catholics and nationalists by loyalists paramilitaries this year.
Said Maskey: ``The report lists almost 200 attacks and will be distributed to TDs, MPs, journalists, Senators and Congress members in the US, and other political parties as a way of highlighting the extent of the campaign of Catholics across the North.''
Portadown RUC stunt
Portadown Sinn Féin councillor Brian McKeown has accused the RUC of engaging in a PR stunt in the area. The force is attempting to set up a `community and police liaison' committee.
According to McKeown, the RUC are trying to entice nationalists in the area to become part of this forum. ``At this time, when both the Sinn Féin and SDLP leaderships are expressing grave public dissatisfaction with the failure of the British government to implement the Patten Report, it is highly questionable that the RUC would push ahead with this idea,'' he said.
McKeown called on political and community representatives in the area to refuse to be taken in by this RUC scheme and to call for the full implementation of the Patten Report.