Catholic homes attacked in County Antrim

A Catholic family in the County Antrim village of Ahoghill has come under attack for the fourth time in a year, while in nearby Ballymena, another Catholic family was targeted by petrol bombers.

Windows were broken in their home on Sunday night and a car parked outside the house was also damaged.

A number of Catholic families were forced to leave Ahoghill last summer during a campaign of loyalist violence in which petrol and paint bombs were used.

Sinn Féin assembly member for North Antrim Philip McGuigan condemned the latest attacks.

“We had a relatively quiet summer and it is disappointing to see there are those in that area who are intent on continuing to attack families because of their religion,” he said.

“More needs to be done to stamp this out, particularly from among the unionist community. It must be made clear to those who carry out these attacks that they cannot be allowed to do so.”

SDLP councillor Declan O’Loan said that while this summer had been quieter than last, each individual attack remained a worrying development.

“I know as well as causing great distress to the family involved that it will be a cause of serious concern to Catholic families, particularly isolated families in the Ahoghill area,” he said.

In Ballymena, a family of four were woken by “a massive crash” caused by bricks smashing through the front wiondows.

“I came downstairs and opened the living room door and was met by flames,” said homeowner Peter Faith, who was at home with his wife and two children, a boy aged seven and an 11-year-old girl,

“I went into the kitchen to get a bucket or basin of water and left the living room door open and the smoke alarm went off.

“I rushed upstairs to waken my family and they had all slept through the smoke alarm.

“If it had been a couple of nights later I would have been on nightshift and I was the only one who woke at the noise.”

Mr Faith said a brick had been found in the living room and it is thought the attackers used this to break the window before hurling one of the petrol bombs into the room.

Another device struck an outside wall.

Three youths wearing Rangers jerseys were seen running from the scene.

It was the third petrol bomb attack in the greater north Ballymena area in a month.

The intimidation last summer focused on Catholic homes, businesses and churches across north Antrim, but was concentrated on Ahoghill and Ballymena.

Unionist paramilitaries ordered six Catholic families out of Ahoghill, while PSNI police added insult to injury by providing Catholic residents with fire blankets and smoke alarms.

A tricolour with references to murdered Catholic teenager Michael McIlveen written on it was placed on top of a bonfire in the village on July 11 night this year.

Despite efforts by police and community representatives the flag was not removed and was set alight.

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© 2006 Irish Republican News