A 61-year-old woman has been left fighting for her life after a unionist paramilitary gun attack in Coleraine, County Derry. Sally Cummings is in a critical condition in the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast after being struck in the head by one of eight shots.
At least three heavily armed UDA gunmen took part in the attack which took place shortly before midnight on Monday. Her son Russell, who is understood to have been the target of the attack, was also injured in the shooting, though not seriously.
The mother-of-three was believed to have been sitting with her back to the living room window when she was struck by a bullet. Every window in the property was damaged in the attack, which was launched from two sides.
The PSNI described the incident as “attempted murder” although it is not thought to have been sectarian in nature. Sinn Féin’s Caoimhe Archibald condemned those responsible. “No one wants to see reckless and very dangerous incidents like this in Coleraine,” she said.
Meanwhile, a number of young girls attending a Catholic school were injured in a loyalist attack on their schoolbus on Tuesday. A window of the bus was smashed as it was coming away from Mercy College in north Belfast. Three girls suffered cuts after being hit by flying glass as the bus was struck by missiles while it was stopped at traffic lights.
Sinn Féin councillor Ryan Murphy condemned the attack and said it was hard to believe such acts could still happen.
“School children have the right to live and go to school free from the fear of intimidation or violence,” Mr Murphy said. “Sectarianism has no place in our society and I call on all political and community leaders to show leadership and work to end these types of attacks.”
The incident comes in the wake of a television broadcast on TG4 of a documentary on the loyalist siege of the nearby Holy Cross school in 2001. The ‘Scannal’ film showed how young Catholic schoolgirls and their families were forced to run a gauntlet of violence and hate on their way to and from the school.
North Belfast IRSP representative Tarlach Mac Dhónaill called for “meaningful conversations” about ending what he said was “a gradual but worrying escalation” in sectarianism among young people in North Belfast.
“Nobody wants to see this, and no child in 2020 wants to be trapped, influenced or injured by hatred. We all have a duty to halt this rise in a societal illness that horrified the world almost 2 decades ago,” he said.
And a DUP councillor has been widely criticised after he expressed support for a murdered paramilitary who called for the ethnic cleansing of Catholics.
George Seawright of the UVF described Catholics as “fenian scum” and said they should be burned in an incinerator. “Their priests should be thrown in and burnt as well,” he said.
But in a social media posting this week, Ballymena councillor John Carson praised the loyalist, writing: “George didn’t only talk the talk, he walked the walk, something that is lacking in many today.”