Burning tyre strikes loyalist terror

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Loyalists placed a tyre at the front door of a Catholic family in Magherafelt and set it alight this week, forcing the four terrified occupants, including an infant girl, to flee the home.

The house is the latest in the town’s Leckagh estate to be subjected to sectarian and racist attacks by loyalists.

Diane O’Neill, who lived in the house, said she does not intend to return to the property after escaping through the back with her three-year-old daughter Sophie and 17-year-old son Samuel.

She told the Belfast-based Irish News that the house had been left badly damaged.

“Now to see the state of the house obviously someone could have been killed in that house,” she said.

She said that older loyalists have targeted her teenage son. “They call him a fenian this and that,” she said.

Ms O’Neill’s mother Grace said that three years ago she was offered a house in the Leckagh area but it was attacked before she could even move in.

“I got the keys of the house in Leckagh and the next morning I saw the police at the gate and I went over and the windows were sashed and (there was) sectarian painting,” she said.

“I was going to move two days after that and the policeman said ‘you were lucky you were not in it’.”

Last month a vacant house in the estate due to be allocated to a Catholic woman was attacked.

The slogan ‘No Taigs’ was daubed across the front of the house while ‘No Taigs or foreigners’ was plastered across the side of the property

Sinn Fein councillor Darren Totten condemned the arson bid.

“There can be no justification whatsoever for this kind of attack,” he said. “It could very easily have been a much more serious scenario we were dealing with this morning.

“When this kind of action is carried it out it has the potential to do serious harm, perhaps more serious than intended, and ruin lives.”

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