UVF blamed for Ballymena bomb
UVF blamed for Ballymena bomb

The so-called ‘ceasefire’ by the unionist paramilitary UVF has again been discredited after the group was linked to recent attacks on republicans in Ballymena, County Antrim.

On Monday a prominent Sinn Féin representative, Michael Agnew, discovered a pipe-bomb under his car.

The device was described as “sophisticated” and “designed to kill”. Another local nationalist was the target of a hoax bomb the same day, while three weeks earlier pipe-bombs were discovered under the car of a Sinn Féin member in Ballymena.

The attacks were the work of the UVF, which declared a ceasefire in October 1994.

This has caused concern as attacks by the UVF has targeted republicans. The UVF has killed several people in recent years, most of them in unionist feuds, but has rarely targeted individual republicans since their ceasefire declaration in 1994.

Failed bomb attacks on the Auld Lammas Fair in Ballycastle two years ago, and the St Patrick’s Day parade in Belfast last year also had the potential to cause widespread death and injury.

But recent attacks appear to be an attempt to draw the Provisional IRA into conflict.

Philip McGuigan, who won Sinn Féin’s first Assembly seat in North Antrim in last November’s election, said his election and the emergence of Sinn Féin in Ballymena had triggered this loyalist response.

“Sinn Féin is on the move in North Antrim, loyalism is all about reaction to the growth,” he said.

“There has been an increase in loyalist activity from all groups in the North Antrim area.

“These attacks have to be seen in the context of two things.

“Firstly, the recent IMC report and other comments made by politicians throughout this island which demonised Sinn Féin, its members and supporters.

“The other thing is, it has to be seen in the context of the growth of republicanism in areas like Ballymena.”

* Firebombs were planted under three cars in Randalstown, County Antrim today. Two of the incendiary devices partially ignited, and one car was damaged.

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