Sectarian attacks and bomb alerts
Sectarian attacks and bomb alerts

A series of bomb hoaxes and alerts also intensified in the past week and fuelled a sense of rising tension in the North.

Road closures, evacuations and heavy PSNI activity have featured in successive alerts across Belfast, Antrim, Maghera, Derry, and Armagh.

The PSNI claimed at least one alert in Derry was a ‘dissident trap’, while a hoax bomb attack at Our Lady of Bethlehem Cistercian Abbey in Portglenone was blamed on loyalists.

Another object discovered at a Sinn Fein office in north Belfast was declared a hoax. The party claimed republican dissidents were responsible.

In one incident, a parcel bomb, addressed to Scottish republican group Cairde Na hÉireann in Glasgow, turned up in Belfast.

The device has been linked to parcel bombs sent to Celtic manager Neil Lennon and two well known fans of the Scottish soccer club. The sectarian mail bombing campaign has been claimed by a group using a cover name of the unionist paramilitary UVF.

The latest, undelivered package was found at a sorting office near Belfast city centre on April 12.

Cairde na hÉireann national organiser Franny McAdam said his group was targeted because it highlights anti-Irish racism in Scotland.

He said: “For too long now people in authority have refused to recognise any attacks on the Irish community as anti-Irish racism, and indeed some councils, like Kirkintilloch and Falkirk, deny it even exists.

“People in positions of power need to stop burying their head in the sand and stand up against racists.

“We at Cairde na hÉireann will continue to fight against racism and sectarianism wherever we encounter it.”

Meanwhile, in Garvagh, County Derry, a Catholic man whose home was targeted by petrol bombers says he fears he may be forced to leave the village.

Martin Bradley, a father of two whose home has previously been attacked, said the motive was “clearly sectarian”. The family had received threats that they would be ‘burned out’.

The front door of the property on Main Street as well as two cars were damaged during the attack at in the early hours of the morning.

In January, another Catholic family had to flee their home in the village when it was attacked by a petrol bomb. A house belonging to a couple in a mixed marriage also suffered scorch damage in the estate over the same weekend.

Recalling the moment they realised their home had come under petrol bomb attack, Mr Bradley said: “I was just getting ready for bed and my wife was in the living room when she started shouting that the car which was at the front of the house was on fire.

“It just suddenly went ‘boom’ and went up into flames.

“We have another car around the corner and I saw smoke coming from underneath it too.

“I ran and got a basin of water and threw it over the car at the front. I returned for another and by that stage, my neighbours were out with buckets too.

“I am the fourth generation of my family living here but we are seriously thinking about selling up and moving on.”

A man was also injured during a random anti-Catholic attack in north Belfast.

The 48-year-old was assaulted on Tennent Street, close to the loyalist Shankill Road, early on Saturday morning and suffered a broken jaw and nose.

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