13 December 2001 Edition
Mother of two in bullet threat
A young mother of two, from the Short Strand area of East Belfast, is living in fear after she received a bullet and a threatening letter in the post.
The letter, signed by the Red Hand Defenders, the Orange Volunteers, and, the LVF read, "the next one is for you...scumbag". RHD, LVF, OV.
The young woman, who doesn't want to be identified, was at work when the bullet, inside a padded envelope, arrived at her home on Friday morning, 7 December.
According to the woman, her two-year-old daughter opened the package and showed the bullet to a friend of the family, who was minding her at the time. Although the friend phoned the woman at work, to let her know of the threat, she couldn't go home until she had finished her shift.
The woman said that she would now have to take safety precautions but said she would not move from the district, as all her family and friends live nearby. The fact that the envelope was accurately addressed and had the her name on it adds to her fears, she says.
Local Sinn Féin councillor Joe O'Donnell urged local people to remain vigilant. "We would like to think it was sent by some nutcase, but at the end of the day you can never be sure. There are too many people who thought, because they were not politically involved, they were safe, but they are now dead. I don't want the woman to be alarmed but it is a worrying development for her".
Ligoniel brothers' loyalist abduction scare
Two brothers from Ligoniel in North Belfast were targeted in a loyalist abduction attempt on Tuesday, 11 December.
Speaking to An Phoblacht, local Sinn Féin councillor Eoin O'Broin said that the brothers were lucky to escape with their lives. One of them had escaped, he said, by clambering over a wall and clinging to a tree that had a 50-foot drop below it.
The incident occurred at 1.30am on the Ligoniel Road. One of the men (who, along with his brother doesn't wish to be identified) went to meet his brother from work and, as they returned home along the Ligoniel Road, a gold coloured Vauxhall car pulled in alongside them.
The five men in the car then emerged and made to abduct the brothers. Both of them ran off, in different directions.
"One of the pair clambered over a wall and clung to a tree which has a 50-foot drop below it", O'Broin said. "He doesn't know how long he was clinging to the tree, but only climbed down when he heard the car driving off".
The Sinn Féin councillor points out that this is only the latest in a series of attacks in the area in recent months. "There are ongoing loyalist attacks on residents in the Ligoniel area. People travelling in and out of the area are attacked in their cars or as they travel on the buses. People have been burned out of their homes while others have been bombed and shot".
Urging residents to be vigilant, O'Broin also called on unionist politicians to show leadership in their own areas in combatting these attacks.
Residents of the isolated nationalist area of Longlands on the outskirts of North Belfast held a picket at the Arthur Bridge last Thursday 6 December to protest at the relentless attacks carried out on their community by loyalists.
The residents blocked the road for 20 minutes during the protest. They were also directing their anger at the RUC/PSNI, who have ignored their plight and, residents say, have more or less given the loyalists free reign to bombard their homes.
In a recent incident, when the RUC/PSNI moved into the area during trouble they pushed the nationalist residents back into Longlands and ignored the loyalists who continued their attack on nationalist homes. When a number of women confronted the RUC/PSNI they were batoned. One woman suffered serious arm injuries, while a second woman was struck across the face with a baton.
Sinn Féin councillor for Newtownabbey, Breige Meehan, who was present during the picket, called for an end to sectarian attacks in the area.