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13 June 2002 Edition

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Widespread loyalist attacks

While people's minds were focused on the loyalist violence directed at the Short Strand in East Belfast over the past week, loyalists in other parts of the North were equally active. Attacks in other parts of Belfast and throughout the North went almost unreported.

Catholic churches and schools were at the top of the list of buildings targeted by the sectarian gangs.

On Tuesday 11 June, loyalists attacked a Catholic school in South Belfast. A classroom at the Holy Rosary school in Sunnyside Street off the Upper Ormeau Road area was burned. Loyalists hurled a petrol bomb into the classroom, setting it alight. The room suffered severe smoke damage, while another four classrooms had windows smashed. A hammer and several petrol bombs were recovered at the scene.

On Saturday 8 June, damage was caused to an art room, dining room and corridor at Our Lady and Saint Patrick's College in Gilnahirk when inflammable liquid was poured into the school.

On Sunday night 9 June, two Catholic students were beaten unconscious and hospitalised after they were set upon by a loyalist gang on the Ormeau Road at its junction with the loyalist Donegall Pass. In the aftermath of this attack, loyalists went on a rampage of rioting against the RUC/PSNI.

Then in the early hours of Monday 10 June, a fire was set at St Columbanus's High School in Bangor by loyalists, forcing it to close for the day. Within minutes of this attack, Saint Congall's Catholic church, also in Bangor, was attacked with buckets of paint thrown over the outside of the building.

Later on Monday 10 June, there was a petrol bomb attack on St Anthony's Church in Willowfield Drive in East Belfast, and on Tuesday the church was attacked again, along with St Columcille's Church in Ballyhackamore.

Sinn Féin's Alex Maskey called for loyalists to step back and end these attacks. He said: "Loyalists are intent on spreading their campaign of hate throughout Belfast. These attacks must end. I would put particular emphasis on those within political unionism who have through rash and unfounded statements, provided political cover and justification for those loyalists carrying out attacks such as these."

Kids escape UDA gun attack

Several shots were fired at a group of young Catholics as they played football in the Yorkgate Complex at North Queen Street in North Belfast on Tuesday night 11 June at about 11pm.

The youths were in the car park playing football when a loyalist gunman fired at them from the direction of Tiger's Bay.

"The teenagers ducked for cover as the shots were fired through the railings at the shopping centre," said a resident. "The RUC/PSNI have tried to say that they were not live rounds but there are strike marks on the railings".

Sinn Féin councillor Gerard Brophy said the UDA was behind the shooting.

"This was clearly attempted murder on children," he said. "I would urge everyone to be extremely vigilant as the UDA are intent on targeting anyone, regardless of age".

There have been loyalist attacks upon nationalist children at the Yorkgate Complex before. In March, 19-year-old Anthony Reid was stabbed in the chest and one week later a 14-year-old boy was kicked and punched by four loyalists.

Bomb attack in New Lodge

Only 30 hours earlier, a Catholic family escaped serious injury when the UDA threw a pipe bomb at their home.

The attack happened at 1.50am on Monday 10 June at Hillman Street. The bomb blew a large hole in the downstairs toilet. This was followed by a volley of shots directed at the house.

Mary Rafferty, who lives in the house with her son, said that earlier the family had held a First Communion party in the house and they were thankful that the attack wasn't carried out then.

The bomb destroyed a downstairs toilet, which is beside a playroom that Mary's niece Jade uses when she stays.

The loyalists launched their attack from Tiger's Bay, indeed from the same junction where a gunman had fired at youths on Tuesday night.

There have been over 400 sectarian bomb and gun attacks by loyalists on the nationalist community.


Unionism must accept it is creating the dynamic for violence

Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson, Fermanagh South Tyrone Assembly member Gerry McHugh, says unionists must accept responsibility for creating the dynamic for anti-Catholic violence.

"We see attacks on Catholic schools, students attending further education colleges being singled out in a manner that is reminiscent of the Nazis in fascist Germany and we see attacks on Catholic homes.

"Unionists may well stand up and make what they believe are the right noises but the reality is that the words of condemnation mean nothing when the actions of unionists are creating the dynamic for anti-Catholic violence carried out by violent Unionism. And I say that very deliberately loyalism is nothing other than violent unionism.

"Violent unionism has traditionally been kept at arms length by its political masters but the reality is that it has been organised and motivated very clearly by the political directions given by the leaders of political unionism in order to pursue the same objectives.

"Trimble and Paisley need to get off their high horses and get to grips with their responsibility for creating and maintaining conflict and in particular in pouring fuel on the flames of sectarianism. They are providing the political cover for attacks on our young people and in making education a sectarian battlefield. They need to wake up and seriously ask themselves if they want to be part of ending the conflict and the process of conflict resolution or instead to provide solace for sectarian bigots."


Loyalists force Catholics to flee Limavady

Nine Catholic families have moved out of their homes in the Edenmore Road and Anderson Crescent areas of Limavady in County Derry due to continuing loyalist intimidation.

There has been increased loyalist intmidation over the last two years, putting families under threat. In recent weeks, the UDA has erected union, loyalist and Israeli flags in the area, but it is the appearance of anti-Catholic graffiti on walls reading 'Taigs out' has left many Catholics living in the area feeling vulnerable.

As well as the nine families that have already moved, it is also believed another two families were forced to move last week after being told they were under threat.

One resident of the area said: "This area is becoming extremely dangerous for Catholics. Every year we ask for something to be done about the flags and as yet nothing has been done. This area is being turned into another loyalist ghetto."

A number of pipe bomb attacks against Catholic families in the town in recent years have been blamed on the UDA.

Meanwhile, nationalists throughout South Derry, particularly people living in Magherafelt, have been warned to be on their guard from loyalist pipe bombers.

Sinn Féin assembly member for the area John Kelly, speaking to An Phoblacht, said he has learned that the UVF, operating under the guise of the South Londonderry Protestant Volunteers (SLPV), are about to resume their bombing campaign.

The RUC/PSNI have also told people living in the area of a planned campaign of sectarian pipe bombings during the forthcoming marching season.

The SPLV have attacked GAA clubs, bars and numerous Catholic homes in a campaign spanning the last two years.

A number of people have been injured in these attacks, although luckily no one has died.

UDA target pensioner

An 80-year-old pensioner escaped serious injury when a UDA pipe bomb exploded at the door of her home in Broadway, West Belfast.

The sectarian attack was carried out at 3am on Thursday morning, 6 June. The window beside the door was blown in and the doorstep and door were damaged when the bomb, believed to have been thrown from a car, exploded. Eyewitnesses say the car was seen speeding off towards the nearby Village area of South Belfast, a UDA stronghold.

According to her daughter, the elderly woman was badly shocked by her ordeal and had to move out of her home to recover.

There have been upwards of 30 loyalist attacks on homes on Broadway all launched from the Village area, over the past 18 months.

In March 1997, John Slane, a Catholic father of ten, was shot dead when UDA gunmen burst into his Thames Court home, off Broadway. He was preparing bottles for his newly born twin daughters when the UDA gang burst in and shot him five times. The gang escaped towards the Village area.

Sinn Féin councillor for the area Tom Hartley said: "This is a deplorable attack on a Catholic pensioner; this area has seen its share of these sectarian attacks in the last few months, and it seems as if it is going to continue."

And an 82-year-old woman sustained injuries to her head after she was hit with a brick thrown by a loyalist from the Glenbryn estate in North Belfast. The woman was travelling from the city centre to her Alliance Avenue home on Monday 3 June when the missile came through the window.
The pensioner was struck with such force that she was knocked unconscious.

Memorial attack comes after unionist incitement

A new memorial dedicated to IRA Volunteer Tony Ahern was vandalised within days of a unionist councillor saying that republican memorials "should be blown out of existence".

The memorial, unveiled on Saturday 1 June at Mullnahinch in County Fermanagh, was attacked by loyalists on Thursday night, 6 June, at around 11.30pm.

Just 24 hours earlier, unionist councillor Cecil Noble's explosive comment had been reported in local newspapers.

Twenty litres of paint were poured over the memorial stone, but a number of local Sinn Féin members went to work immediately and were able to restore it.

Sinn Féin councillor Brian McCaffery said he would be sending a copy of the article carrying Cecil Noble's remarks, along with a letter, to the Director of Public Prosecutions seeking an investigation under incitement to hatred legislation.

This is only the latest attack on republican monuments following remarks made by unionist politicians.

Attacks have been carried out on memorials dedicated to Volunteers Antoin McGiolla Bhríde, Kieran Fleming and Joseph MacManus in Belleek County Fermanagh, while the memorial to Fergal O'Hanlon and Sean South at Altawalk, near Brookeborough, was also badly damaged when a car was reversed into it and set alight.



An Phoblacht
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