Families forced to flee loyalist attack

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The PSNI have admitted an attack on four homes in County Derry was a sectarian loyalist attack.

A young Protestant mother, whose partner is Catholic, had to be hospitalised after her home was among those damaged by masked loyalists in the village of Culnady, near Maghera, last week.

Some of the families targeted are of mixed religion. Front living room windows in the houses were smashed and the doors of three homes were damaged. The windows of a car parked outside one of the properties were also broken.

The majority of those forced to flee the area have said they will no return. The five-months-pregnant victim, whose infant son was asleep in the house, said she was shocked by the attack.

The victim, who is originally from Ballymena, said she moved to Culnady “for peace”.

“I grew up in a bad place and moved to a quiet village for peace and a safe family home and that is what it was until this happened,” she said.

She explained how she is struggling to come to terms with what has happened.

“I don’t want to believe it’s because I found a good man who is a good role model for my child and gave me a family home and being picked on for being happy in my life,” she said.

She no longer feels safe in areas where loyalist paramilitaries are active.

“I don’t feel safe in a community that has paramilitaries because they are picking on me for being happy with a Catholic man,” she said.

Mid Ulster Sinn Féin councillor Sean McPeake was present when the victim was preparing to leave her home on Saturday.

“The homes were carefully chosen by loyalist sectarian thugs because of the perceived religious background of the home owners,” he said.

“It is totally appalling that at this time we have a situation where a number of parents and young children have been forced to leave their homes because of loyalist sectarian intimidation.”

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