Child victim of loyalist feud
A fresh wave of loyalist violence broke out on Tuesday night, 29 August, and spread across the North. Three men were injured in Belfast, Larne and Lisburn. A house in Larne was also completely damaged in an arson attack. It is thought up to 20 people were involved in the attack on the Brittania Cresent home. Windows were smashed in 20 houses in Carrickfergus, County Antrim and five homes in nearby Greenisland were also damaged.
The attacks occurred as 11-year-old Charlene Daly remained seriously ill in hospital. On Monday night, she was shot through the window as she watched television in a house in Coleraine, Co. Derry. The indiscriminate hail of bullets was intended for her father, a former UDA prisoner.
Earlier that night, the house of the latest of the victims the feud has claimed was torched. A crowd gathered outside Sam Rocket's house shortly after his girlfriend had moved the furniture out of it. The property was extensively damaged.
Late last week, a number of weapons seized on the Shankill Road clearly showed that the loyalist murder gangs are rearming. Six weapons owned by the UVF were loaded and ready for use. These included an Uzi sub machine gun, an assault rifle and one of the newest guns to have appeared on the market.
In a separate find, bomb-making equipment, including one and a half kilos of commercial explosive and a detonator cord, was found in the Shankill area. This is being linked to the UDA/UFF, with which the UVF is feuding.
It has also been confirmed that at least 70 families have been driven out of their homes as a consequence of the latest wave of loyalist violence. Most of the families that have been forced to flee come from the Lower Shankill, an area controlled by the UDA. Other families, who are now officially homeless, come from Carrickfergus and Larne.
It is thought that this Saturday's planned march to commemorate UVF man Brian Robinson may further heighten tensions. Two thousand people are expected to turn out on the Shankill road for the commemoration.
Speaking in Strabane at the weekend, Sinn Féin national chairperson Mitchel McLaughlin accused British secretary o State Peter Mandelson of being involved in a cynical PR and lobbying exercise to shore up his flawed and increasingly criticised Police Bill.
``The main thrust of Mandelson's spin,'' said McLaughlin, ``is the lie that Sinn Féin will NEVER sign up to any new policing service. Well let me spell it out for Peter Mandelson, the NIO spin-doctors and anyone else wishing to misrepresent our position. Republicans have campaigned for and need the security of a democratic and accountable policing service. The Patten report, if implemented in its entirety, may give us the opportunity to do just that. The Mandelson Policing Bill will not but will lead instead to avoidable stalemate and division.''
Addressing himself to Tony Blair, McLaughlin had this warning: ``I hope he realises that on the issue of policing, he has `the key to the future of the peace process in his hand'. He will only get one chance to get it right. Will he open up a new beginning to policing or will he lock us into the divisions of yet another British policy failure?''
(Full story p9)