Thursday, March 31, 2005

Sectarian and racist attacks in the Six Counties

Graeme Neill:

A Catholic woman has insisted she will not be forced out of her home following a sectarian attack apparently sparked by her grandchildren playing hurling.

Loyalists targeted Kathleen McCaughey's house in the Brookfield area of Ahoghill, Co Antrim in the early hours of Easter Sunday.

The grandmother shares her home with daughter Michillo (30) and her two children Nathan (11) Thomas (7), who has epilepsy.

They spoke of their ordeal as loyalists were blamed for an attack on a Catholic man in north Belfast and a racist assault on an Asian man in the south of the city.

Ms McCaughey (50) and her daughter were awakened at around 2.30am by banging on the front door.

Frightened, they got up and were confronted by a man standing on the stairs.

"He shouted at us 'Get out you fenian bastards, get out or I'll be back'," Michillo said.

The man fled, but his accomplice then came to the house, banged on the windows and shouted sectarian abuse.

"He shouted in again that we had to get out and called us fenian bastards," Michillo said.

She believes their home was attacked because her two sons were playing hurling in the street the previous day. However, she stressed the neighbours had been very supportive.

"They [the attackers] are all drunken thugs – they like to think they have [paramilitary] connections but they are just showing off," she said.

"How would they like somebody coming into their house and scaring their children?"

She said son Thomas has had trouble sleeping since the attack.

"His nerves have been shattered since this happened – he was so scared."

Her mother Kathleen insisted she will not be driven out of her home.

"I was one of the first into Brookfield. I have been here all my life and have never moved.

I won't be shifting for them," she said.

When police arrived at the house, they were attacked by a mob hurling stones, bricks and fireworks.

SDLP councillor Seamus Laverty said it was "very sad" that sectarianism was still a problem.

"I know lots of Catholics who have had to leave Ahoghill because of the sheer amount of attacks on them and they get no peace," he said.

DUP councillor Tommy Nicholl denied that there was a problem with sectarianism in the village.

"I abhor any attack regardless of who they are and I would condemn this attack unreservedly," he said.

Progressive Unionist Party representative Billy McCaughey said he "absolutely condemned" the attack.

"There is nothing that justifies the attack on that family," he said.

In 1980 the loyalist, a former RUC officer, was convicted of the 1977 sectarian murder of Catholic William Strathearn in Ahoghill as well as the kidnapping of a Catholic priest from the village in 1978.

And people wonder why so many indigenous Irish Catholics support the Provisional IRA?


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