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Sectarian Attacks - July-October 2003

8 October, 2003


This dossier lists sectarian attacks carried out by loyalists across the Six Counties, between July 1st - October 6th 2003, (as reported in An Phoblacht, UTV, the Newsletter and the Irish News.) Although by no means comprehensive, due to the fact that so many attacks go unreported it offers a chilling picture of orchestrated sectarian intimidation, particularly in areas where there is a vulnerable nationalist minority.

This dossier will be sent to both the British and Irish Governments. The Irish government has a duty to defend Irish Citizens who are the target of these attacks. The British government has a responsibility to explain the role of their agents inside the loyalist paramilitaries responsible for this campaign.

The British government's suspension of the institutions and cancellation of the elections created a lengthy political vacuum, which unionist paramilitaries are trying fill with sectarian attacks.

Despite the relative calm at interfaces over the last three months, loyalist violence has persisted with more than 160 separate sectarian attacks on Catholics across the Six Counties. These attacks are in part the result of the sectarian divisions within our society, but the majority are being orchestrated by unionist paramilitary groups.

This has included 54 pipe and petrol bomb attacks, a number of shooting incidents, 43 attacks on people including a man stabbed eight times, a pregnant women beaten so severely that she lost her baby and several attempted abductions. There have been scores of attacks on Catholic houses and property with families forced to leave their homes.

And in the last few weeks we have seen an upsurge in attacks on Catholic schools and churches. On the 18th September five Catholic schools in Larne, North Belfast and West Belfast were forced to close due to UDA bomb hoaxes and on 15th September devices were left at two Catholic schools in Dungiven and Limavady. The fact that the UDA in particular is heavily infiltrated by Special Branch and Military Intelligence agents raises the question about who is setting the agenda for such attacks.

In the past much sectarian loyalist violence had been focused on the interface areas. But as a result of the work done in these areas over the past year this avenue was largely closed to those wishing to orchestrate sectarian violence in the past number of months.

Sinn Féin has been aware that over the past year intensive contacts between the political leaderships of unionism and the leaders of the various unionist paramilitary groups have been ongoing. Unionist politicians should explain the insight this has given them into what is going on within these armed groups and tell us when this sustained campaign will end. Those involved are given succour when they hear unionist politicians defending sectarian threats and protests such as those which occurred at Carnmoney Cemetery and in other blatantly sectarian incidents.

All political parties and civic society need to speak out with one voice on this campaign. This dossier is merely the tip of the iceberg and does not include the nightly attacks and intimidation in parts of North Belfast, Lisburn, Larne and Coleraine or the many unreported acts of intimidation. There is an urgent need for the political process to be put back on track and for a cross-party initiative against sectarianism.

5th October

A 21year old man had his skull fractured in a sectarian attack near St. James Church in Belfast.

A Catholic family was forced to leave their home in the Parkhall estate in Antrim after a number of masked and it is believed armed men attacked their house and attemted to force their way inside.

4th October

Petrol bomb attack on a house in Deerpark Road in North Belfast.

2nd October

Catholic family in Coleraine were forced to leave their home when they came under fire from loyalists for the second time this week - gunshots were fired at their home.

30th September

Catholic family in Coleraine had a brick put through their window by loyalists for flying a Tyrone flag.

29th September

Attack on Our Lady of Mercy's school in North Belfast -- six cars belonging to staff were destroyed and two badly damaged after loyalists entered the grounds carrying petrol cans, doused the cars, smashed the window screens and set them on fire. This is the second attack on the school in 20 months.

27th September

Two teenage boys, aged 13 and 14, were attacked by loyalists in Durham Street in West Belfast.

Loyalists smashed the windows of a car parked outside St. Comgall's Club in Victoria Road.

26th September

A van belonging to workers, removing sectarian graffiti from apartments in South Belfast, was destroyed by loyalists. This was the third attack on this apartment block in four weeks

24th September

Pipe bomb left at the gates of the Dominican College, a Catholic Grammer School, in North Belfast. The attack followed a sectarian arson attack on the school just over a year ago.

21st September

A Catholic family with two young children escaped serious injury after loyalists threw rocks through the back window of their car as they drove along Market Hill Road in Cookstown, County Tyrone.

Petrol bombs were thrown at two homes on the outskirts of Belfast

20th September

A ten-day-old baby escaped injury after loyalists petrol bombed four Catholic homes on the Bawnmore estate on the Northern outskirts of Belfast. Up to five devices where thrown in the sectarian attack, which happened when loyalists travelling in a red car stopped outside the nationalist homes.

A 20-year-old man and his father were viciously attacked by loyalists after a night of greyhound racing at Ballyskeagh dog track near Lisburn. Louise Conlon told how when she arrived by car to collect her husband and son after the race meeting, the pair were set upon by a number of men.

Loyalists smashed windows and the front door of a home in Stoneyford, near Lisburn during the night. UVF slogans were sprayed on a wall.

18th September

UDA bomb hoaxes in Larne and North and West Belfast closed five Catholic schools. At around 1.15pm, a caller claiming to represent the Red Hand Defenders, a cover name used by the UDA, made a call to a Belfast newsroom to say bombs had been left at Catholic schools. St. Comgall's High School in Larne was forced to close, as was Fortwilliam, St. Gabriel's, Our Lady of Mercy and Holy Cross schools.

15th September

Two devices were found at Catholic schools in Derry - St Patrick's High School, Dungiven, and St Mary's High School in Limavady, just ten miles away.

14th September

A number of Catholic graves were desecrated at St Patrick's Church cemetery, Ballyargan, in Scarva, County Down, the latest sectarian attack at a graveyard. Eight graves had headstones broken and flowers and wreaths were strewn about the grounds.

On Sunday also, loyalists attacked Catholics homes in the Deerpark Road area of North Belfast for the third week running.

Glengormley priest Father Dan White received a death threat from the Loyalist Action Force, a cover name used by the UDA. On the same day loyalists blew horns and whistles outside the gates of the Cemetary in an attempt to disrupt the blessing of the graves ceremony.

12th September

Loyalist paramilitaries bombed a pensioner's home in Larne, Co Antrim.

Members of the PSNI visited the offices of the North Belfast News to warn a journalist with the paper that his life is under threat from unionist paramilitaries.

A car carrying three nationalists, one wearing a County Antrim GAA shirt, was attacked by around 20 to 30 loyalists, but they managed to escape unscathed.

Loyalists attacked cars at the West Circular and Ballygomartin Roads in Belfast. A young driver, targeted for wearing a Celtic top, was assaulted and robbed but narrowly escaped being abducted.

11th September

Bomb attack on a home in the Upper Cairncastle Road area of Larne, Co. Antrim

In Derry last week, the UDA threatened to take action against what it described as 'known republicans' in the Waterside area. The warning was issued in a statement released by the Ulster Political Research Group and comes on the back of a press conference last month when the UPRG warned that the UDA ceasefire in Derry was coming under strain.

10th September

Loyalists daubed sectarian graffiti on the front of St Mary's Catholic chapel in Glengormley. The slogan KAT (Kill all Taigs) was painted across the doors of the church on the Carnmoney Road.

9th September

Loyalists attack graves at Carnmoney Cemetary outside Belfast

8th September

Pipe bomb attack on a house in Magherafelt

7th September

A Catholic man was struck on the head with a hatchet by a gang of Shankill loyalists, as he walked home along Carrick Hill.

6th September

Pipe bomb thrown at a house in Lisburn

Car destroyed in an arson attack in Randalstown

3rd September

Man attacked by loyalists on Deerpark Road -- a brick is thrown in his face

2nd September

Two Catholic families were forced to flee from their homes in North Belfast

Loyalists attack the home of a Catholic mother who lives with her 15 year old autistic daughter in North Belfast.

1st September

A loyalist pipe bomb attached to the gates of Holy Cross Girls' Primary School disrupted the first day of term and renewed fears of a resumption of a sectarian campaign of violence against the North Belfast Catholic School. The attack took place against the backdrop of a sectarian campaign of intimidation by Glenbryn loyalists targeting Catholic homes in nearby Deerpark Road.

31st August

An Armagh family's car was attacked with stones by loyalists as they returned from watching their team win the All-Ireland football semi-final against Donegal in Dublin. The family from Lurgan were stopped at traffic lights in the Malcolm Road area of the town when their car was stoned by a group of loyalists.

23rd August

Three teenagers were attacked by a gang of seven unionist paramilitaries carrying baseball bats and golf clubs, as they walked along Alliance Avenue in Belfast.

22nd August

Catholic family forced to move. A woman whose North Belfast home has been the target of a series of sectarian attacks by loyalists has said she cannot take any more and is moving out.

21st August

Lagan Valley Sinn Féin Councillor Paul Butler's home was attacked by loyalists with fire bombs and numerous threats, including one naming his partner, have been painted on walls in Dunmurry and outside the council office in Lisburn. Mr. Butler also received a live bullet through the post along with a death threat. In recent months 12 Catholic families have been forced to put their homes up for sale in Stoneyford.

17th August

Loyalists pipe bomb a house in Queens Park area of Newtownabbey

16th August

Buses with Celtic football supporters were attacked by loyalists as a loyalist band parade on the Ballyclare Road near Glengormley. Supporters escaped serious injury as bottles and bricks crashed through the windows of the bus.

15th August

LVF issue death threats to people at a dole office in Downpatrick and intimidate people entering and leaving the building

12th August

Members of the PSNI stopped and assaulted 12-year-old Garvan Brown after he was asked a question and answered them in Irish. The assault happened as he walked through the Fernabbey estate in Derry with his older sister.

A dream home being built by a Catholic family in Desertmartin, County Derry has been burnt down in an arson attack by loyalists, the sixth attack since construction began several years ago. The house, on the Tobermore Road in Desertmartin, was gutted by fire.

10th August

Nationalist homes in Cupar Street, just off the Springfield Road in West Belfast, 12 petrol bomb were thrown into the back gardens of nationalist homes.

9th August

Up to ten devices were thrown across the 'peaceline' at houses in Cupar Street from the loyalist Mayo Link.

Poleglass man receives a death threat from loyalists

Newtownabbey Sinn Féin councillor Briege Meehan received a death threat from unionist paramilitaries using the name the "Loyalist Action Force".

A young nationalist in Glengormley was threatened by an armed man shortly after 9.30pm

7th August

The UDA in Derry issued a new threat of violence at a loyalist press conference in the Waterside.

6th August

Two Catholic schoolboys were attacked and robbed by a group of loyalists as they left York Street train station North Belfast.

5th August

There was an arson attack on St Enda's GAA Club in Omagh. Almost three quarters of the roof of the new stand, which is under construction, has been destroyed as well as around 200 seats.

4th August

A highly flammable bomb was thrown from a passing car at the house of councillor Paul Butler, which he shares with his partner and three children.

31st July

Loyalist gangs attacked Catholic homes in the Stiles estate in Antrim.

30th July

Homes in the Clandeboye area of the Short Strand came under fire from loyalist youths using ball bearings and golf balls.

Loyalist paramilitaries erect Nazi insignia in Ballymena and distribute White National Party literature as part of their campaign against non whites.

27th July

Members of South Antrim UDA beat and kicked a 31-year-old Protestant mother so hard she lost her unborn baby, because she had Catholic friends. Mary Norris said seven masked UDA men smashed their way into her Rathcoole home, destroying everything in their way and stealing £800 in savings.

A 17-year-old girl had a gun put to her head and her two male companions, aged 14 and 26, needed hospital treatment after they attacked by up to 15 members of the UDA in Dunmurry.

26th July

An historic South Derry Catholic church has been badly damaged in a sectarian arson attack. Extensive damage was caused to the altar of St John's Church, on the main Magherafelt to Castledawson Road A window at the rear of the church was broken and flammable liquid was poured in. The floor at the rear of the building, which dates from the time of the penal laws in Ireland, was also badly damaged.

24th July

Unionist paramilitaries abandon 3 pipe bombs and a grenade in the Camlough/Bessbrook area of County Armagh. They say they were to be used to attack Sinn Féin representatives living in the area.

A number of families living in Leckagh Drive Estate in Magherafelt, County Derry, were evacuated from their homes due to a suspect bomb, later declared an elaborate hoax. This was the latest act of intimidation carried out in the estate which has been plaqued by unionist paramilitary violence against Catholics over the last 18 months.

20th July

A 21year-old Catholic was seriously injured after he was attacked by a gang of 20 loyalists wielding golf clubs, iron bars and poles painted red, white and blue as he played golf at Aberdelghy Golf club, outside Lisburn. The 21-year-old victim and his brother-in-law were playing a round of golf when they were confronted by two men wearing Glasgow Rangers' football tops. The men ordered the Catholic golfer to remove his Celtic shirt.

19th July

Loyalist youths have been attacking nationalist homes in Clandeboye Drive and Clandeboye Gardens with ball bearings, golf balls and other missiles daily. Car windscreens, sun roofs as well as houses have been hit by missiles fired from catapults over the interface wall from the loyalist Cluan Place.

17th July

Denise Crudden, a Catholic mother of three said that after an Orange Order march a gang of loyalists youths bombarded her home, in the mainly Protestant village of Magheraveely, with bottles, bricks and other rubble in a three-hour rampage. During the onslaught, Crudden had to hide her children in a room at the back of the house.

16th July

Loyalist issue death threats against two Derry postmen. The two Catholic workers are on special leave from their jobs at Derry sorting office after receiving UVF sympathy cards at their home addresses. The cards, which were signed UVF, bore the words 'RIP, Fenian Scum'. They were delivered at the weekend. The latest threat is not the first time postal workers in Derry have been targeted by loyalist paramilitaries.

15th July

Loyalist supporters of the White Nationalist Party (WNP) have been erecting Nazi flags and distributing party leaflets in the loyalist town of Ballymena, County Antrim. White Nationalist Party flags have been put up on lampposts beside the joint offices of the Social Security Agency and the Housing Executive in Twickenham House at Mount Street and in the Clonavon area of the town.

11th July

A number of Catholic residents from Ardoyne who applied for a judicial review against the Parades Commission decision to allow an Orange parade through their area have received death threats from the Red Hand Defenders, a cover name used by the UDA.

10th July

Two malicious fires have left children in the New Lodge/Duncairn area of North Belfast without a playground. The fires, which caused more than £6,000 damage to the Star Neighbourhood Centre, were started by loyalist arsonists who returned to torch the centre a second time only days after their first attack. Now, nearly 60 children are without any play area over the summer holidays.

8th July

A PSNI officer has attacked a young girl who had already been victimised during the Holy Cross dispute, leaving the child bruised and traumatised. Twelve-year-old Shauna Millen was standing with female friends on Clifton Park Avenue after a PSNI raid had been carried out on a home nearby.

7th July

A FOUR-year-old Co Antrim child escaped injury in an early morning petrol bomb attack by loyalists. The boy and his parents were asleep upstairs at their home in Willow Walk, Aghalee, in the early hours of the morning when the attack with two petrol bombs was launched.

5th July

It was revealed in a Housing Executive report that almost 90 families have been intimidated from their homes in Antrim in the past year. The vast majority of the cases were of Catholics being forced from their homes by unionist paramilitaries.

3rd July

An American woman whose family business was destroyed and whose home was attacked by loyalists has said she is considering returning to the United States. The UVF in the South Derry area have admitted they are responsible for the sectarian attacks.

A Catholic man was knifed in the back up to eight times, when loyalists attempted to abduct the man, outside Bushmills, Co Antrim.

2nd July

A 28-year-old Catholic man was viciously assaulted in sectarian attack carried out by a loyalist gang who targeted him as he walked along the Cloyfin Road near to Coleraine County Derry.

1st July

A Catholic man was stabbed in the stomach by a loyalist bandsman only hours after a controversial Orange Order march took place on the nationalist Springfield Road in West Belfast. The 27-year-old father of two was walking to a local shop on Clifton Street in north Belfast with his two-year-old son at around 5.30pm on Saturday when he was attacked.

The attempted murder of a 20-year-old John Stewart by loyalists in Ballynahinch last weekend was the most serious of a series of attacks in the County Down town in recent months. Ballynahinch's 50% Catholic population has been targeted by loyalists from the Langley Road estate. And in the run up to this year's marching season, loyalists have festooned the town with loyalist flags including UDA, UVF, YCV, Ulster Flags and Union Jacks. UVF and YCV flags have been erected outside a Catholic primary school and the local library.

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