Republican News · Thursday 4 September 1997

[An Phoblacht]

Larne attacks escalate

Sectarian attacks on Catholic residents of Larne are continuing to occur, with one local Catholic and his girlfriend being targeted at the weekend. Loyalist gangs, almost certainly UVF, attacked the man's home and wrecked his and his girlfriend's car.

At the same time a petrol bomb was thrown at the home of an elderly woman in the loyalist town, but it failed to explode.

Speaking to An Phoblacht about the attacks, residents accused the RUC of colluding with the loyalists. Witnesses told us that one of the loyalists was captured and handed over to the RUC but they let him go without charging him.

The man attacked at the weekend was first targeted on the Eleventh night when a crowd armed with baseball bats arrived in the estate where he lives. Earlier the RUC had told him he was in danger from loyalists. Locals managed to scare the loyalists off, but since then there has been sectarian graffiti on every wall in the estate, and the windows of Catholic homes have been broken.

One witness said, ``things seem to be getting worse. Every night something seems to happen, and it seems they are targeting two particular Catholic men. Every night the loyalists from Craigyhill come over, daubing the walls. This estate, Seacourt, which is mainly Catholic, has UVF daubed on almost every wall. It has got so bad people have started phoning each other if anything happens.''

The young man confirmed that some residents are allowing the loyalists to use their house, one woman in particular. ``They were seen coming out of her house with masks on. She is letting them use her house to attack us, yet her and others are calling for a meeting to discuss the trouble.

``All of this aggro is down to one man in particular, from Wellington Gardens. He was put out of one estate in Larne for causing trouble, and has been up here taking down personal details about people, including house and car numbers, and all of a sudden, bang! The same houses and cars are being petrol bombed.''

The witness also confirmed that loyalists are coming in from Rathcoole and Carrickfergus, and that local residents are concerned about future violence. ``With them coming in it is just a matter of time before someone gets seriously hurt with all this petrol bombing. What's next? Isn't there supposed to be a ceasefire, or will they just come in and shoot us?''

The residents are left with no confidence in the RUC, who they maintain are soft with the loyalists who are attacking people and houses. ``Just before 11 July the RUC searched all the local gardens and took away all our hurling sticks. Since then they just stand and watch loyalists parading around with baseball bats. They watched one loyalist beat a man with a bat, and then return to beat another two people before lifting him, and even then they let him out after fifteen minutes.''

The man concluded by saying ``When anything happens the RUC can't be found, but usually they saturate our estates, so we are having to take to the streets to defend ourselves.''

No equality for Carnlough

The flags controversy around the Antrim coastal town of Carnlough took a new turn when Larne DUP councillor Bobby McKee took part in removing the tricolour from Carnlough library last weekend.

A group of Larne loyalists took the tricolour down in the early hours of Saturday 30 August.

Concerned Carnlough residents have voiced their outrage at such activity. One spoke to An Phoblacht, ``We are angered at the activity of DUP activists dictating events in a majority nationalist town. Business and public meetings agreed to fly the tricolours. Our message to McKee is that the people in Carnlough are entitled to and demand their equality, including their right to their tradition and culture.''

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