6 September 2001 Edition
Nationalist woman escapes abduction
The loyalist protest directed at school children attending Holy Cross primary school and the media attention given to it has ensured that the continuing campaign of violence against nationalists has gone largely unnoticed.
As An Phoblacht went to press last week, a family of four from the County Down town of Ballynahinch escaped injury as two devices exploded at their home causing extensive damage.
The double bombing was only the latest attack on the nationalist community in Ballynahinch blamed on the UDA.
Over the weekend, a 33-year-old Ardoyne woman returning home from a friend's house was the target of an abduction attempt at the junction of Jamaica Street and Alliance Avenue.
Mother of three Ann Kelly said that she became worried when she noticed a car carrying four men coming towards her from the direction of the Loyalist Glenbryn area.
The incident happened in the early hours of Saturday morning, 1 September, and the streets were empty.
Kelly says the car drove past her, then turned and drove back towards the top of Alliance Avenue and returned along the street towards her.
At this point the woman was in a state of panic and tried to walk faster, but the loyalists pulled in behind her and she was grabbed from behind and two of the loyalists tried to drag her towards the car, thought to be a red Ford Sierra.
As she tried to fight the men off and scream for help she heard one of the men in the car saying, `shut the Fenian bitch up, keep her quiet'. During the struggle one of the attackers punched Kelly in the face and around the head.
``I just kept struggling and put my feet against the car to stop them getting me in. I then sunk my teeth into one of the men's hands, drawing blood, and he let go of me,'' said Ann Kelly. ``I somehow managed to get free from the other man and run towards my house''
The loyalists didn't pursue the woman but jumped into the car and sped off.
Kelly says that she is now going to move as her assailants saw her going into her house and now know where she lives.
Not far from the Ardoyne attack, at Westland Gardens, a group of up to six loyalists attacked two teenagers using iron bars.
Trouble flared in the area at about 1.30am when the teenagers were set upon as the got out of a taxi. The loyalists pulled up behind them in a car and jumped out brandishing iron bars, hammers and sticks.
As well as severelt injuring the youths, the the loyalist gang broke windows in two houses and smashed the windscreen of a car.
The mother of one of the injured youths said he received injuries to his head, back and shoulder with a hammer and could have been killed.
As neighbours came out to defend and protect their homes, a gang of up to 70 loyalists appeared from the direction of Oldpark Road.
Fierce hand to hand fighting then erupted as the loyalists attempted to attack the area until the RUC arrived. Residents criticised the fact that when they came on the scene, the RUC pointed their Land Rovers at the residents as if they were responsible for the trouble. No action was taken against the loyalists.
As with other vulnerable nationalist areas throughout the North, Westland Gardens has been under constant attack from the UDA based in the nearby Westland Estate.
Pipe bombers and paint bombers have targeted homes in a series of organised attacks over the past year with a number of people being forced to leave their homes.
Speaking to An Phoblacht, Sinn Féin's Eoin O'Broin said that while the area had been attacked on numerous occasions previously the fact that the loyalists had attacked in such large numbers from the top end was, ``a serious development and a serious escalation''.
Home destroyed in sectarian attack
BY LAURA FRIEL
``I can't offer you a cup of tea because there is no electricity,'' says Christine Kelly, ``but I've plenty of toast in the kitchen.'' The Catholic mother of two is putting a brave face on it. Her hands are shaking with the trauma of her family's ordeal but she can still crack a joke or two.
Inside the kitchen, everything is black and charred, incinerated in a fire which swept through the back of the Kelly family's North Belfast home after a petrol bomb was deliberately thrown into an outside heating oil tank. ``They must have prized off the cap because I had the tank padlocked,'' says Christine.
Not only is the back kitchen completely destroyed, so are a downstairs living room, upstairs bathroom, a back bedroom and third storey attic room. Christine shows me around each of the rooms, the family's possessions lie blackened and ruined. ``At least no one was killed,'' says Christine.
Just before the attack, Christine had called her elder son, 16-year-old Joseph out of the back living room where he had been playing computer games. ``I keep the children away from the back of the house when ever I think there might be any trouble,'' says Christine.
Christine was standing outside her front door talking to a neighbour when the loyalists attack her home shortly after 9pm. Her younger son ran from the house and alerted Christine to the attack. ``A few hours later when we would have been asleep,'' says Christine, ``and none of us would have survived.''
The fire from the ignited oil tank was so intense two of Christine's neighbours' homes were also badly damaged.
Michael Crangle and his wife were at home when the blaze ripped through the roof and down through the ceiling of their bathroom leaving the room gutted and the rest of the house smoke damaged.
Margaret Goodall, whose home was also damaged in the fire, says the ordeal has intensified the trauma of her 22-year-old daughter, who is recovering from a loyalist gun attack at her place of work earlier this summer.
``We live in a constant state of fear here,'' says Christine. ``We have fire extinguishers in every room and at night we're too afraid to draw attention to the house by putting on a light. We creep about here in semi darkness.''
Christine's Newington home is owner occupied, so she has little hope of ever moving away. ``I've sent my children to live with relatives for the time being,'' she says, ``but in the end we've nowhere else to go.''
Loyalist attacks designed to provoke IRA
Sinn Féin MP Martin McGuinness has accused unionist politicians of creating the conditions and encouraging loyalist murder gangs in their campaign of intimidation against the nationalist and republican community.
``These attacks and threats are designed to provoke the IRA into retaliation,'' he said. ``It is no coincidence that the upsurge in loyalist attacks and threats directed at republicans and nationalists has coincided with David Trimble's agenda to collapse the political institutions as spelt out in his letter to the Ulster Unionist Council last October. Both are designed to put the republican peace strategy under pressure. They will not succeed.
``We thought that loyalists had stooped as low as they could during the blockade of Harryville Church but the political vacuum created by David Trimble in undermining of the institutions and the British governments' failure to check his actions has encouraged them to sink to even lower depths.
``Their cowardly sectarian campaign has now spread to targeting young children, firstly in preventing pupils from going unhindered to school at Holy Cross in Ardoyne and now underage GAA members in South Derry wishing to participate in sporting activities.
``The UDA using another of its flags of convenience - the so-called SLPV - has forced one business in South Derry engaged in transporting children to GAA activities to close. Other businesses have similarly been threatened without a whimper of censure from Unionist politicians.
``While I would encourage everyone to be vigilant and to take precautions against such threats and attacks it is imperative that communities do not allow themselves to become paralysed by paranoia. I would ask the many decent protestant and unionist people who live in these areas to show solidarity and support for their nationalist and republican neighbours by letting it be known that there is no support for this activity.''