Republican News · Thursday 21 December 2000

[An Phoblacht]

Sinn Féin councillor targeted by loyalist bombers

South Down Sinn Féin councillor Aidan Carlin has revealed that members of the Parades Commission has held unofficial meetings with traders in Downpatrick to discuss sectarian parades through the County Down town.

Several Market Street traders agreed to the unofficial meeting while others refused.

According to Carlin, traders fear that the Parades Commission may be attempting to put together a package ahead of next year's Drumcree parade and part of that package might entail getting traders' support for a parade, including the notorious Red Hand Defenders Flute band, through Downpatrick.

``This band gained notoriety in the area,'' said Carlin, ``after they paraded with LVF colours and it is widely thought that this band has LVF connections. It would be totally out of order if any compromise around parading allowed this band to march in Downpatrick.''

d in a statement the Down Peace Forum, a community-based pressure group, said that a majority of traders who spoke to the Parades Commission are opposed to any plan that includes the Red Hand Defenders. The Forum accused the loyalist band of wrecking community relations when in 1986 it forced Down District Council to abandon its St Patrick's Day parade when they tried to join it with the intention of causing trouble.

Catholic church hall badly damaged in blaze

Loyalist paramilitaries were behind a fire in a Catholic church hall in Tannaghmore near Antrim town, says Sinn Féin's Martin Meehan.

The fire at St MacNissi's was the third at the church hall in four years and was discovered by a passer-by at about 2am on Saturday morning, 16 December.

The blaze was started when a window in the hall was smashed and petrol poured in and ignited. Severe damage was caused to the roof and stage of the building, although fire crews who arrived at the scene prevented the fire spreading to the church itself.

After the previous attacks on the church property, extra security measures, including the installation of reinforced glass, were taken but according to Martin Meehan these ``loyalists were determined to cause as much damage as they could and managed to break through the security. What is very disturbing about this type of attack is the fact that it underlines the vulnerability of the small Catholic communities in these rural areas especially as loyalist paramilitary activity is on the increase''.

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