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14 February 2002 Edition

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"I stared death in the face" - taxi driver

A Strabane taxi driver says he stared death in the face after he was confronted by a number of gunmen in the small loyalist village of Artigarvan last Sunday, 9 February.

The 41-year-old, who doesn't want his identity disclosed, said he was sent to a call in the Leckpatrick Gardens area of Artigarvan at about 3pm last Sunday.

He parked across from a block of derelict flats in the loyalist Leckpatrick Gardens area but began to get suspicious about the call when no one appeared for the pick up.

"The next thing I knew," he said, "there were four boys coming up the steps wearing black balaclavas and full combat gear. They were running at me so I don't know what exactly they were carrying but it seemed to be some sort of implements, possibly batons."

The man said he was terrified as he tried to reverse out of the dark-lit alleyway as the gang tried to open his door. As the man was reversing, one of the gang knelt in front in a firing position. "I don't know if it was a rifle, but it was something long, it could have been a bit of wood but I wasn't stopping to find out."

RUC wait nine months to pass on death threat

Sinn Féin Assembly member for Upper Bann, Dara O'Hagan, has slammed the RUC/PSNI over a nine-month delay in informing one of her constituents that he was on a loyalist death list.

O'Hagan says the RUC/PSNI recently came to the man to tell him his details had been discovered on a list on a computer hard drive on 15 January, but in subsequent correspondence between the man's solicitor and the RUC/PSNI, it was revealed that the list had in fact been discovered last April.

O'Hagan has also accused the RIR of mounting a campaign of harassment against nationalists in Lurgan. Highlighting two incidents that occurred last Thursday, 7 February, O'Hagan said that RIR patrols detained nationalists at checkpoints in the town and forced them from their cars.

Loyalists desecrate memorial at massacre site

Within days of the 10th anniversary of the UDA massacre of five Catholics in Sean Graham's Bookies on the Lower Ormeau Road, a carload of loyalists desecrated the memorial.

In the early hours of Sunday morning, 10 February, the loyalists drove along Hatfield Street, where the memorial is sited, and stole a number of wreaths laid just last week to mark the 10th anniversary of the killings. They scattered the flowers about the road and as they made their getaway they shouted sectarian abuse.


An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1

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