The unionist paramilitary UDA has intimidated a Protestant family out of their County Derry home after their son was spotted wearing an Ireland t-shirt.
The mother-of-three said the house was petrol-bombed after her 18-year-old son was seen wearing a t-shirt with the slogan ‘I support Ireland’, in support of the island’s sports teams.
The teenager, who also has a Catholic girlfriend, was wearing the garment on Sunday, according to local SDLP assembly member John Dallat.
The mother and her children have now fled their home in the loyalist Millburn area after a petrol bomb was thrown through a window.
A metal bar was used to smash the double-glazed kitchen window first.
The Protestant woman was at home with her two daughters, who are aged nine and 13, when they heard the attack at around 11pm on Tuesday.
The device did not ignite and no-one was injured but the family were traumatised by their ordeal, according to Mr Dallat.
The assembly member said the UDA “still have a grip” on the Millburn area “and promote themselves with a large mural ‘First Battalion UDA’ on display to intimidate local Catholics.
The UDA forces residents to fly flags outside their homes “and they have no choice -- go out and buy a flag, pay someone to put it up or get your windows broken”, he said.
Mr Dallat said the UDA in Coleraine “have an appalling history of abuse towards anyone who disagrees with them” and the family has now effectively lost the home they owned.
“It’s sad that 14 years after signing the Good Friday Agreement families are being driven out of their homes by paramilitaries.
“When are our hate laws going to be strengthened?”
Meanwhile, two loyalists have been convicted in Scotland of plotting to assault manager Celtic soccer manager Neil Lennon, former parliamentarian Trish Godman and the late barrister Paul McBride, as well as people at the republican organisation Cairde na hEireann last year -- by sending mail bombs.
The two, Trevor Muirhead of Kilwinning, and Neil McKenzie of Saltcoats, had been “motivated by hatred”, according to the local police.
A jury of 11 women and four men took almost two and a half hours to find the pair guilty by majority verdict of the conspiracy to assault charge following a five-week trial. A charge of attempted murder had been dropped.
Lennon, who grew up in the North, has been a frequent target for loyalists and was physically attacked on the sidelines of a televised football match last year.
Celtic’s chief executive, Peter Lawwell, added: “No-one could imagine the pressures that this man [Mr Lennon] has been under during the past two years. He has coped with this particular episode, last year’s assault and the, at times, seemingly unrelenting attacks from many quarters.
“In my opinion, no-one in Scottish footballing history has had to contend with this level of pressure whilst trying to do their job.
“Neil Lennon is someone who has shown tremendous strength of character and resilience, and we will continue to support Neil in any way we can.”