105-year-old woman targeted in loyalist attacks
105-year-old woman targeted in loyalist attacks

A 105-year-old grandmother was showered with glass during a series of attacks on homes in north Belfast blamed on loyalists.

Two Catholic mothers and their young children escaped injury on Wednesday night during a spate of attacks over a three-hour period.

Their homes in Clifton Park Avenue were petrol bombed after a number of homes in the nearby Cliftondene area were attacked.

One pensioner, 105-year-old Catholic woman Jane Crudden, was sleeping in a downstairs room when four bricks smashed through her window. She was left badly shaken but uninjured.

Her daughter Jean - one of 11 children, and 42 grandchildren - said it had been a terrifying attack.

"My mum is bed-ridden, and we have a bed in the sitting room for her," she said. "When the bricks were thrown, she was showered in glass. The bricks could have hit her on the head.

"She has been left very scared by this - it is absolutely terrible what's happened.

"She will have to get out of the house and go to temporary accommodation."

The attacks took place opposite Girdwood British army barracks, and those involved were seen escaping into the loyalist Glenbryn estate.

Geraldine O'Neill and her partner Dominic Mezza said they had been watching television in an upstairs bedroom in their Cliftonpark Avenue home when they were alerted to suspicious activity outside.

"We looked out the window and saw a man lighting a petrol bomb and we jumped back, thinking that it was coming for us," Ms O'Neill said.

Next-door neighbour Eileen Morgan, who lives with her four-month old son Tiernan and daughter Caitlain, said that she was unaware of the events unfolding.

"I was in the living room with Tiernan and Caitlain was in bed sleeping. I heard a car screeching and then smashing," she said.

"I took Tiernan upstairs to safety and then looked out the front door and saw balls of fire in the garden.

"I didn't know what was happening. I was shocked and I panicked. I was very worried for the kids.

"Thankfully one of my neighbours came up and put the fire out."

North Belfast Sinn Féin Assembly member Gerry Kelly said that the attacks were carried out by loyalists, but did not specifically blame the UDA.

He described them as a "very worrying development". Mr Kelly said:

"I have no doubt that loyalists were behind these attacks and they mirror almost exactly attacks carried out by the UDA in this area 12 months ago.

"Last nights attacks are clearly a very worrying development and I hope that this does not mark the commencement of another wave of sectarian attacks on Catholic homes in North Belfast by loyalist groupings."

* A number of homes elsewhere in north Belfast were evacuated after a security alert, later declared a hoax.

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