Irish Republican News · April 16, 2004
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Family `forced out' over welcome sign

Sinn Féin has denied `hounding' a family out of Antrim town because it had painted over a mural on their gable wall.

Martin McManus, a Sinn Féin councillor for Antrim, insisted the party had no involvement in the mural or the departure of Ms Dollery and her family.

``I would be glad to go anywhere to meet the woman to let her know that Sinn Féin welcome her back into Rathenraw and try to help her out,'' he said.

``There is definitely no Sinn Féin agenda against this woman. She seems to have been in a neighbourhood dispute that went totally wrong.''

It was reported earlier today that a Catholic family had been forced to flee to Scotland after painting over a sign reading `Failte go [Welcome to] Rathenraw', because they feared it would make them a target for loyalist attack.

Mother-of-four Gemma Dollery, said was escorted by PSNI police out of the estate, after being threatened by a mob.

Ms Dollery, who moved her family to Dumfries in Scotland, claimed she had been confronted by a SInn Féin representative who warned her of the consequences of painting over the mural, which appeared at Easter at her end-terrace house in the nationalist Rathenraw estate.

Angered by the inscription on the house where she lived for more than three years, she painted over it with black emulsion.

After a crowd gathered, she claimed the PSNI would only escort her family out of the area.

The family abandoned most of their furniture and belongings in the Housing Executive property, which was petrol bombed by loyalists a year ago.

Ms Dollery and her partner, who are both unemployed, are determined never to return, and have applied for a council property in Scotland.

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© 2004 Irish Republican News