``As near to murder as you can get''
BY LAURA FRIEL
A 10-month-old baby and her mother were treated in hospital after a loyalist petrol bomb attack on their home at Glenview cottages, just outside Glenarm near Larne. Shortly before 1.15am in the early hours of Sunday morning, 19 March, the device was thrown through a bedroom window. The window had been first smashed with a brick.
Twenty-year-old Francesca Feeney and her daughter Rebecca were sleeping in the bedroom at the time of the attack. Ronnie Hamilton ran into the room after hearing his partner's screams. His description of the scene was horrific. The bedroom curtains, back wall and bed were already alight.
Moments earlier Francesca had dragged herself and the child from their flame engulfed bed. The hair of both mother and daughter was on fire. They were both treated in hospital for minor burns and smoke inhalation. Francesca believes her family was targeted because she is Catholic and her partner Protestant. This is the third time the family have been attacked.
Local people described the area as quiet, rural and remote. ``We're in the heart of the country and whoever did this would have had to go out of their way to get here.'' DUP deputy mayor of Larne Rachel Rea said the attack was ``as near to murder as you can get''. She described community relations as good and said their had been no prior history of sectarianism in the area.
Carnalbanagh is less than six miles away from Glenarm. Last year Richard Hastings, a loyalist from Glenarm, was acquitted at Belfast High Court after he lost his right hand when a pipe bomb he was carrying exploded prematurely. Judge Philpott accepted Hastings' story that he had been intimidated by loyalists who told him to throw the pipe bomb at the home of his Catholic neighbour.
Francesca Feeney has said it is unlikely that her family will return to their home outside Glenarm. ``We were nearly burnt alive,'' she said.