Sectarian Attacks


The following list of sectarian attacks is from 30/31 July 1999 through 1 September 1999. Should any incidents have inadvertently been left off the list please contact us. The issue of inclusion/exclusion is very problematic. For instance this document does not include punishment beatings 'within' a community, attacks by the security forces on civilians or by civilians on the security forces or murders where the perpetrators are believed to be from the same community and the motive is not thought to have been sectarian. We have also not included violent incidents connected to feuding within loyalism. We will update this list each month.


July 30/July31 – Unionist councillors claim that cars and houses on the Shankill Road, Belfast were attacked by nationalists. Attackers had entered into the area through a hole in the "peaceline" – a fence that separates nationalist west Belfast from unionist west Belfast.

July 31 – A loyalist wielding an AK47 assault rifle and a handgun walks along the nationalist Craigwell Avenue in Portadown. "A number of shots were fired by the loyalist attacker before he was wrestled to the ground and disarmed," said Breandan Mac Cionnaith of the Garvaghy Road Residents Coalition.

The loyalist was arrested by the RUC; no one was injured.


August 4 – John White of the Ulster Democratic Party warns that the UDA/UFF ceasefire is on "tenderhooks". The warning comes as a second man is charged in connection with the 1989 murder of Pat Finucane.

In May of this year, John White said, "if UFF personnel are going to be arrested [in relation to Pat Finucane’s murder] it will have a serious effect on whether the UFF would continue to support the peace process".

August 5 – The Irish News reports that a hurling (a Gaelic game) summer scheme in Dungannon, Co. Tyrone, was cancelled because of repeated threats from loyalists. The scheme – intended for area children – was to take place at Dungannon’s O’Neill Park.

O’Neill Park was the target of a loyalist bomb attack in July.

August 7/8 – A Presbyterian church hall and an Orange hall in Ballyroney, Co. Down, comes under attack.  A Free Presbyterian church in Moneyslane, Co. Down, also comes under attack.

August 9 – In the early hours of the morning, 2 petrol bombs were thrown at the home of a Catholic man in Larne, Co. Antrim. One petrol bomb hit a shed while the second petrol bomb went through an open bathroom window.

"There is a concerted effort here to drive Catholics from the area," said a local SDLP councillor.

No one is injured in the attack; it was the second attack on the home in several months.

Ryan’s Presbyterian church hall outside Rathfriland, Co. Down is destroyed in an arson attack.

August 13 – A petrol bomb is thrown through the window of a Catholic home in Ligoniel, north Belfast. The bomb landed in the bedroom of a 6-year old boy but failed to ignite.

August 14 – A loyalist gang attacked a Catholic woman from Kilkeel as she came out of a local pub. Describing the attack the young woman said:

"I had just walked out of the bar and the next thing I knew five or six fellows were running towards me. I heard them shouting ‘Fenian’ and they started kicking and punching me.

"I was knocked to the ground – three times I tried to get up and was knocked down again.

"I kept asking them to stop but they just kept on kicking me in the head and all over"

The woman was taken to a hospital where she was treated for injuries to the head and the abdomen. She later underwent an operation that resulted in over 30 staples to her stomach.

A Limavady teenager is attacked by 2 masked men. The young man’s mother claims that his attackers – men who she claims come from another housing estate in Limavady – mistakenly identified her son as having joined local youths in erecting Irish flags in the area.

August 15 – A Church of Ireland hall in Strabane is badly damaged in an arson attack.

The home of an elderly Protestant couple in the Curryneirin estate on Derry’s Waterside comes under attack. The front window of the home was broken and a paint bomb was thrown into the living room.

August 16 – The nationalist Craigwell Avenue in Portadown is evacuated after a hoax bomb alert.

August 17 – More sectarian attacks are reported on the nationalist Craigwell Avenue in Portadown. Loyalists hurled breeze-blocks at some houses on the street, damaging walls.

A member of the Progressive Unionist Party alleges on going intimidation against Protestants in south Antrim. He warns that the "Ulster Volunteer Force will not stand idly by while Protestant people are being abused in this manner."

August 18 – The Irish News reports that a Belfast man is "understood to have been arrested in connection with the 1994 Loughinisland [Co. Down] pub massacre." The massacre left six Catholics dead. They were gunned down by the UVF as they sat in a pub watching the ’94 World Cup.

August 19 – More Catholic families move out of the nationalist Craigwell Avenue, Portadown. The Irish News features an article highlighting the on-going intimidation of Craigwell Avenue residents "subjected to a relentless campaign of attacks by loyalists". The article can be found here

August 20 – Newry district councillors react to news that bilingual signs just outside Newtownhamilton were vandalised; the Irish words on three signs were painted out. The incident is simply the latest attack on bilingual signs in the Newry and Mourne area.

August 21 – SDLP councillor, Danny O’Connor, notes that loyalist intimidation and attacks on Catholics in Larne, Co. Antrim, have worsened.

"Somebody has to do something. People accuse me of being a troublemaker and say that Larne is not a bad place to live. It’s not a bad place to live so long as you are not Catholic," he said.

The councillor also added that, "Loyalists are acting with total impunity, without any fear of legal sanction from the police."

The Irish News features the following articles on sectarian intimidation in Larne:

article 1

article 2

The Irish News also reports that a Sinn Fein councillor has called on church leaders in Kilkeel, Co. Down, to use their influence to put a halt to sectarian attacks in the area. The councillor described the town centre as a "no-go area for nationalists" and noted a number of recent attacks in the area.

August 22 – The BT Target Sports Club near Loughbrickland, Co. Down, is vandalised by loyalists. A bulldozer was used to destroy an 8ft earthen wall at the club and the club buildings were daubed with loyalist graffiti.

The shooting club strenuously denied rumours that it is "pro-nationalist".

August 25 – An independent nationalist councillor and an independent unionist councillor from the Bushmills, Co. Antrim area both claim to have been approached by tourists regarding verbal abuse and intimidation.

"I was approached by a couple from the Republic who had stones thrown at their car because it had southern number plates", said Cllr. Oliver McMullan (ind. Nat.).

Cllr. Price McConaghey (ind. U.), who noted that the village was "awash with loyalist graffiti and paramilitary flags", claimed that there was an attempt to burn a bus used by American tourists simply because it had southern number plates.

The Moyle District Council has confirmed that it is seeking a meeting with the Bushmills Community Association (BCA) to address the problem.

August 26 – Loyalists attack a 16-year-old boy from the Lower Ormeau Road area of Belfast.

The boy received serious bruising to an eye after being punched by one of his attackers.

A spokesperson for the Lower Ormeau Concerned Community said parents were concerned about a recent increase in sectarian attacks against children.

August 28 – Loyalists targeted the home of Larne SDLP councillor, Danny O’Connor. The councillor’s elderly parents and sister were awakened in the early hours of the morning by the sound of bricks hitting the door. A petrol bomb was later found outside – only the strength of the glass on the front door prevented the device from being thrown into the hall.

"I hear people talking about a peace process, but as far as Catholic people in Larne are concerned there is no peace process," said O’Connor.

"There is an ongoing undercurrent of intimidation in Larne, be it through paramilitary flags, broken windows, young Catholic men getting beaten up, or by petrol bombs."

"People are buying fire extinguishers and filling up their baths before going to bed. It’s a terrible way to live – sooner or later someone has got to do something."

A pregnant woman is assaulted during a Royal Black Institution parade in Belfast city centre. A loyalist marcher in Donegall Square targeted the woman East as she tried to cross the street to work in Chichester Street. The man grabbed her by the shoulder and verbally abused her, saying that she could only cross the road when he allowed her to do so.

According to the Irish News, a number of similar incidents were reported following the Royal Black parade.

August 29 – St. Mary’s GAA club in Ahoghill, Co. Antrim, is severely damaged in an arson attack. Loyalist slogans declaring "North Antrim UDA/UVF [sic] Ceasefire Over" were also daubed on club walls.

It was the second arson attack on the club in recent years.

A British army bomb disposal unit defused a pipe bomb found near a Catholic church in Co. Antrim. The bomb had been left in the graveyard of St. Peter the Rock on the Rock Road in Lisburn.

At least 5 Catholic churches in the Lisburn parish have been attacked in recent years.

August 30 – A pipe bomb is pushed through the letterbox of a home in Larne, Co. Antrim. The home belongs to Kevin O’Connor, brother of Larne SDLP councillor Danny O’Connor. Considerable damage was done to the home; Mr. O’Connor was treated for severe shock.

Also in Larne, a pipe bomb was thrown at the home of a Catholic family in Sallagh Park South. A couple and their four children were in the home at the time of the attack but were uninjured.

"Ever since the ceasefires started, things in Larne have been getting progressively worse. Things are now getting out of control.

"There is a systematic campaign of violence being waged against the whole Catholic community in this area," said Cllr. O’Connor.

He also claimed that the UDA was behind the attacks and called on Gary McMichael of the Ulster Democratic Party (UDP) to say whether they are still on ceasefire or not. (McMichael later denies UDA involvement.)

September 1 – The Irish News reports that the SDLP is "seeking urgent talks with the chief constable Sir Ronnie Flanagan amid fears the RUC is not committed to tackling loyalist attacks on Catholics in Larne."

Meetings are also being urged with secretary of state Mo Mowlam and security minister Alan Ingram.


It goes without saying, of course, that sectarian attacks do not occur in a vacuum – they are a by-product of the sectarian attitudes that permeate this corner of Ireland. The following links will connect our readers to recent stories from the Irish News that help illustrate this sad fact:

-- a story on sectarian remarks made by John Taylor MP (UUP).

-- two stories on sectarianism and Castlereagh Borough council:

story 1

story 2

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