The mother of a Catholic gun attack victim fears her son will be killed by the UDA after he was blasted on his doorstep in Coleraine in a savage sectarian attack.
Photos have emerged of the injuries inflicted on Paul Fleming, who suffered life-threatening head wounds in the shotgun attack aimed through the front door. He was discharged from the Ulster Hospital on Thursday.
The PSNI have refused to say if the attack is sectarian. However, Mr Fleming’s mother blamed loyalists in the County Derry town for the attack on her son because he is a Catholic and a Celtic supporter.
Speaking to the Sunday World at the weekend, his mother Wendy said: “The UDA tried to kill my son because he supports Celtic. That’s the only reason we can think of. That’s all he’s into - Celtic and taking a drink.
“Loyalists have targeted him before so this isn’t the first time. He used to live with me and the house was attacked with a petrol bomb and the windows were put in.
“Celtic is his life and he got himself into rows on Facebook but that’s all it was.”
She added: “I fear they’ll be back to kill my Paul. I only have two kids and people always slag Paul because he’s a mammy’s boy. We are both Celtic season ticket holders and we go over to the games regularly together.”
Mr Fleming’s partner Danielle told the newspaper it was clear the attackers were trying to murder Paul.
“He was shot deliberately in the head. Look at the height the bullet went through the glass,” she said.
“They were aiming at his head. They wanted to kill him. He was blasted with such force he was lifted up in the air and sent flying into his bedroom.”
She added: “They fired another shot at him as he lay bleeding - but thankfully they missed.”
Danielle - who is pregnant with the couple’s child and is due to give birth in April - says she fears that the people who targeted Paul may come for her next.
“Now I’m genuinely fearful they’ll come back and kill him or attack me too,” she said.
The same weapon used to attack Mr Fleming was also used by the UDA in a gun attack in the town last month in which a local woman and grandmother, Sally Cummins, was shot in the head.
That was an unconnected incident understood to be related to a drugs feud, but the family were upset at newspaper articles suggesting a direct link.
“It might be the same crowd who did it but my son had nothing to do with drugs,” Paul’s mum said.
“This is about pure sectarianism, nothing else. We are supposed to be in a time of peace.”
Some 26 years after the loyalist ‘ceasefires’, a recent official assessment estimated that there continues to be around 12,500 unionist paramilitaries in the north of Ireland, 5,000 in the UDA and 7,500 members of the UVF.
The UDA has been increasing its sectarian and anti-republican activity in recent months, recently threatening Saoradh activists in nearby Limavady.
The East Belfast UVF is continuing to engage in intimidation and violence, this week smashing windows and daubing graffiti at the home of a woman who had previously fled the organisation.
And more than one loyalist faction is thought to be behind a number of recent death threats to journalists without drawing the interest of the pro-unionist police.