Sectarian Attacks

February 2001


The following list of sectarian incidents and attacks is from 01 through 28 February 2001. We rely on a number of sources for our information, but this is by no means comprehensive. If you find incidents that have been left off the list please contact us. A full dossier of sectarian attacks from January 1999 until December 2000 is also available.

February 1, Thursday
Two Catholic homes in Ballynahinch were attacked with pipe bombs. A family of six were asleep when the first device went off outside their Loughside Drive home at 2am. Ten minutes later, as neighbours gathered in the vicinity, the second device exploded two doors away. No one was injured. The RUC removed lengths of copper piping for forensic examination. Residents of the area slammed the RUC response to the attacks, saying only a couple of RUC men had bothered to attend the scene. (IN, RUC, RM)

February 2 Friday
A pipe bomb was thrown at the Whitecliff Inn, which has a mixed clientele, in Whitehead, between Larne and Carrickfergus. The device did not explode, and was made safe by an British army bomb disposal team. The RUC said they were still searching for a motive behind the attack. (BBC, RUC)

At the high court in Belfast Charles Conlon, a Maghaberry prisoner of mixed ethnic origin, filed for a judicial review, alleging a campaign of racial harassment by prison officers. (IN)

February 3, Saturday
The Irish News reported that Larne RUC Superintendent, Karen Kennedy, is to be transferred out of the area. (IN)

The RUC uncovered components for 11 pipe bombs in a derelict house on the Antiville Estate, Larne, Co Antrim. A balaclava, surgical gloves and fireworks were also found in the Fairway Estate in the town. (BBC, RUC)

February 4, Sunday
A Catholic family escaped uninjured after loyalists attacked their New Lodge home with a pipe bomb. The parents and three young children aged 10 months to 14 years, escaped their home shortly after midnight when the device went off and blew the doors of the house from their hinges. The house was completely destroyed in the fire that followed. It was revealed that an accelerant, thought to be petrol, had been added to the pipe bomb to increase its incendiary capabilities. (IN, BBC, RUC)

February 5, Monday
British Army bomb experts made safe a device thrown at a house at Estoril Park in the nationalist Ardoyne area of Belfast. (IN, BBC, RUC)

Shortly afterwards, the 1st Battalion, Royal Green Jackets, was deployed in North Belfast "to protect the Catholic community from the sort of sectarian attacks which have been taking place over recent weeks". Sinn Fein condemned the introduction of the troops, saying: "The past two weeks has seen an increase in loyalist death squad activity in the north Belfast area with people being informed daily that they are in imminent danger and almost nightly attacks against the nationalist population. It is widely known that these attacks are being carried out by the UDA. Given the fact that the UDA has been armed by British Military Intelligence and supplied with intelligence files on Nationalists by both the RUC and the British army nationalists will fail to see what will be achieved by deploying British troops in North Belfast." (BBC, IN, NL, AN, NBN)

RUC assistant Chief Constable Alan McQuillan told the BBC that he did not know if the UDA leadership was orchestrating the attacks. At the same time he dismissed comments by John White, of the UDP, in which White denied any UDA involvement. (BBC)

DUP leader, Ian Paisley, called into question the UDA's ceasefire as well as the IRA's. (IN)

While the UDA leadership insisted its ceasefire was intact, security sources told the News Letter that UDA elements based in the lower Shankill area "are definitely involved" in the ongoing pipe bombing campaign. (NL)

The Irish News reported the South African human rights expert and Drumcree mediator Brian Currin had warned the Orange Order of ‘dire consequences’ if they continued to refuse face-to-face talks with the Garvaghy Road Residents' Coalition. Mr Currin warned the organisation that refusing to talk to residents in the context of European human rights legislation currently being enshrined into British law could mean key marches being banned. (IN)

The Chinese Welfare association used its celebrations of the Chinese New Year to launch a four-year strategic plan to combat racism. MLA’s Denis Haughey of the SDLP and Dermot Nesbitt of the UUP attended the event. (IN, NL)

February 6 Tuesday
Houses in Larne, Co Antrim and Lurgan, Co Armagh were attacked with pipe bombs. The attack in Lurgan is not thought to have been sectarian, but related to tensions within loyalism. (BBC, IN)

Loyalists are thought to have been responsible for shots fired at Catholic homes in Belfast, on the Seacourt estate in Larne, and in Bushmills, Co Antrim. In the gun attack on a house in the Belvoir estate in South Belfast, a man was injured by flying glass. There were no injuries in the other attacks. (BBC, IN)

In Derry, a Catholic family living in George’s Street in the predominantly Protestant Fountain estate escaped uninjured after a device thrown at their home only partially exploded. An army bomb disposal team was called in to deal with the remains of the device. (BBC, IN, LS, DJ, RUC)

February 7, Wednesday
The Irish News reported that loyalists had thrown 41 pipe bombs in the 35 days since the beginning of the year. In the same article, a Belfast woman being interviewed about the attacks said, "I have heard loyalists saying Catholics might be attacking their own homes to make loyalists look bad. I lived in Brookfield Street in ’69 when a whole street of Catholic families was burned out. We moved with seven children to Cranbrook and were burned out of there as well. I remember unionist politicians saying that it might be nationalists burning their own homes. They’re still attacking us and telling the same lies."(IN)

Graffiti appeared at the loyalist end of the Oldpark Road in north Belfast, reading:


The kitchen of the home of a Catholic family living in the Seacourt estate in Larne was "sprayed with bullets". Theirs is the only Catholic family living in that particular row of houses. The occupants, a couple and their teenage son, who were not in the kitchen at the time, escaped injury. The attack is the latest in a series of attacks on the family and their property in recent weeks. (IN)

The SDLP sent a delegation to meet British Security Minister Adam Ingram to discuss the ongoing spate of sectarian attacks. (BBC, AN)

Danny O'Connor of the SDLP and party colleague Alban Maginness met with RUC Chief Constable, Ronnie Flanagan. (IN)

Loyalists are thought to be behind pipe-bomb attacks on two Catholic homes in Limavady, Co Derry. In one of the attacks the bomb exploded outside the room which a seven and a half months pregnant woman shares with her partner. (BBC, IN, DJ)

A Gay men's support group in Limavady was petrol-bombed half an hour after a meeting started at the Rainbow Project. (IN)

In Moygashel, near Dungannon, a Catholic man was taken to hospital suffering from facial injuries after a loyalist bomb exploded on the building site where he was working. On the same night a device was thrown at a Catholic home at Gortnasor in Dungannon. The device was described as being crudely made from a firework with nails taped to it. (BBC, RUC)

A suspect device left outside the home of a blind pensioner in Enniskillen turned out to be an "elaborate hoax". (IN)

The Whitecliff Inn, in Whitehead, Co Antrim was attacked by arsonists, the second attack on the bar in less than a week (See February 2). (IN)

Workmen found a blast incendiary device on waste ground near the Ballykeel Estate in Ballymena. Two home made shotguns and component parts for 10 pipe bombs were discovered by the RUC during a search in the Beltoy Road area of Carrickfergus. (RUC)

February 8, Thursday
British Army bomb experts defused an incendiary device on a railway line near Carrickfergus, Co Antrim. (IN, BBC)

Gary McMichael of the UDA aligned Ulster Democratic Party called on the UDA to clarify whether or not its ceasefire still held. (IN, BBC)

A delegation, which included nationalist representatives as well as victims of recent sectarian attacks, met with Irish Foreign Minister Brian Cowan to press the Irish Government to call for a review of the UDA ceasefire. The British Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, John Reid, said he would consider the points subsequently raised by Brian Cowan. (IN, BBC)

The RUC in Coleraine arrested three men in connection with pipe bombings in the town. They also raided suspected pipe-bomb factories in Harpur's Hill and Ballysally in the town. (IN, RUC)

A row erupted after the Irish Taoiseach Bertie Ahern was told by a Scottish MP not to travel to Glasgow to unveil an Irish Famine/Great Hunger memorial in the city. Frank Roy, Labour MP for Motherwell said he was afraid the Taoiseach's visit would spark sectarian tensions as it coincided with a soccer match between Celtic and Rangers. "One of the worst nights in my constituency for policing is the night of any 'old firm' game, and frankly we don't need this as well" said the Blairite MP. (G, IN, IT, S Trib, Glasgow Herald)

A Catholic family whose home in the Fountain estate in Derry was attacked with a pipe-bomb thrown by loyalists moved out of the estate (See 6 February). (DJ, CW)

The RUC and British Army announced increased security activity and stepped up patrols in north Belfast, Larne and Antrim and in Coleraine and Limavady, Co Derry. (UTV, BBC, RUC)

A nail bomb exploded outside the house of a Catholic pensioner in the Short Strand area of Belfast. (IT, IN)

Loyalists are believed to have thrown the petrol bomb that set fire to the home of a Catholic couple and their nine children in Donaghmore, Co Tyrone. (IN, IT)

It was reported that statements had been issued, purportedly from the Irish People’s Liberation Organisation (IPLO) and the Catholic Reaction Force (CRF) threatening a violent response to any further sectarian attacks on nationalists. (RM)

February 9, Friday
The British Army stepped up patrols in the lower Shankill area of Belfast amid rumours that senior LVF and UDA/UFF figures were attending an event in the area. (IN)

February 10, Saturday
Frank Roy, the MP at the centre of the row over the Taoiseach's cancelled visit to Glasgow, sparked further diplomatic unease by suggesting the Irish Government leaked information that could damage the peace process. Mr Roy accused the Irish Consul in Edinburgh of leaking the letter in which he said that the new British Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, John Reid, shared his fears about the Taoiseach's planned visit. Roy had worked for Reid until three weeks previously when he moved from his post as Scottish Secretary to his present post. Members of the Scottish Parliament are concerned that Scotland will be seen internationally as a sectarian backwater after Roy's suggestion that the presence of an Irish government representative could heighten sectarian tension. (Scotland on Sunday, S Trib)

Loyalists threw a pipe bomb at the home of a Catholic family living in the Waterside area of Derry. The device exploded in the kitchen causing extensive damage. Two small children were in the house at the time. Sinn Féin accused the UDA of attempting a ‘pogrom’ (IN, NL, LS, DJ, RUC)

RUC Chief Constable, Sir Ronnie Flanagan told the Dublin-based Sunday Tribune that although he believed UDA personnel were behind the majority of the sectarian attacks being carried out in the north of Ireland, that it did not necessarily mean the organisation was consciously breaching its ceasefire. (S Trib)

A columnist for rival newspaper Ireland on Sunday claimed that two known anti-agreement UDA figures are masterminding the current wave of UDA attacks in conjunction with the LVF. One of them, "the Mexican" is thought to have masterminded the Greysteel massacre in 1993. The other has served a sentence for attempting to murder a senior Sinn Féin figure. With the bulk of the UDA and UDP now opposed to the Good Friday Agreement, it is thought that, short of the arrest of these two leaders, the current wave of attacks is likely to continue. The paper also reported growing nationalist anger at the failure of the RUC to take effective action against those responsible for the attacks. (IoS)

British tabloid newspaper The Sunday People carried an article claiming extensive links between British neo-nazi group Combat 18 and the UDA. The article also alleged the existence of a substantial arms cache belonging to C18 in a north Belfast loyalist stronghold, along with a hit list of British and Irish TV celebrities deemed too much in favour of multiculturalism. There are well established links between loyalists and British white supremacists. One such link is evidenced in the recent alleged recruitment of former UDA prisoner Stephen Irwin, convicted for the 1993 Greysteel Massacre, into Combat 18. However, PFC has been unable to substantiate the newspaper's arms cache claims. (SP, PFC, CW)

Scottish Labour MP Frank Roy, the man at the centre of the controversy surrounding Bertie Ahern's cancelled visit to Glasgow, resigned (see February 4). (Daily Telegraph)

February 11, Sunday
The RUC raided three flats in the Ross House flats in Mount Vernon off the Shore Road in north Belfast and recovered "a significant amount of explosives and components for making pipe bombs". The entire flat complex was evacuated during the operation. Although the majority of attacks are thought to have been carried out by the UDA and the LVF, this find may be significant because Mount Vernon is seen as a UVF stronghold. There is speculation that there may be a UVF split. (IN, RUC, NL)

A pipe bomb exploded shattering windows and causing damage to the interior of the home of a Catholic man in Alliance Avenue, north Belfast. Wire mesh on the windows prevented the bulk of the nail shrapnel from penetrating the house. The device had been thrown over the ‘peace wall’ in the back garden. There were three people asleep in the house at the time. The SDLP's Alban Maginness again called for the UDA's ceasefire to be reviewed. (IN, RUC)

In the Bishop Street area of Derry there were clashes between nationalist youths and loyalists from the Fountain estate after a Celtic v Rangers match. Stone throwing between rival fans across the peace line turned into a situation where petrol bombs were thrown at the RUC from behind an impromptu barricade after the RUC had intervened on the nationalist Bishop Street side of the line. Nationalists claimed that the clashes started when the RUC taunted Celtic fans with sectarian abuse as they left a Bishop Street pub where they had watched the match. The clashes across the peace line continued until around midnight with petrol bombs and stones being thrown in both directions. Residents on both sides spent the night in fear after several of their windows were smashed. Clashes continued for almost two weeks. As a result, community workers from both sides met and resolved to patrol the streets on their own sides to prevent the clashes from continuing. (IN, DJ, LS)

Masked Loyalists threw rocks, golf balls and other missiles over the ‘peace line’ at Catholic homes on the upper Springfield Road. Local residents claimed that this was not unusual at the weekends. What is more unusual is what followed. A gang of 25 masked men armed with golf clubs, sledgehammers and pick-axes then breached the peace line and attempted to break their way into a house where a young mother and her children were cowering. The house, which faces Lanark Way, is permanently bricked-up because of the ongoing attacks. The attackers left when the RUC arrived. (AN)

February 12, Monday
Shots were fired through the window of a house at Rossdale Road in Belfast. There were no injuries and a shotgun and a number of cartridges were recovered afterwards by the RUC. (RUC)

Catholic employees at defence manufacturers Shorts Brothers in Belfast complained after sectarian graffiti was daubed in the toilets. "While I did not get to see what had been written I understand that it was something like UFF or UVF pipe bomb all taigs out of Shorts," said one employee. (IN)

Loyalists threw pipe bombs at two Catholic homes in Broughshane, Co Antrim. The attacks happened within minutes of each other, and both devices failed to explode. (IN, RUC)

A group calling itself the CRF (Catholic Reaction Force) threw fireworks with nails attached across the ‘peace line’ from the Springfield Road into the Protestant Workman Avenue. (IN)

Loyalists staged protests on the lower Garvaghy Road as part of the run-up to ‘day 1000’ of the Drumcree dispute. According to GRRC spokesperson and local councillor Breandan MacCionnaith, up to 300 people, some masked and armed with clubs, intimidated people living on the Garvaghy Road. The loyalist demonstrators also attacked a car containing four women. The Orange Order denied the claims of intimidation, but the RUC confirmed that an inquiry had been launched after a complaint of damage to a car. (IN, RM)

February 13, Tuesday
A section of the Springfield Road was closed off after a four-year-old girl found an unexploded pipe bomb and carried it home. The device was made safe by an army bomb disposal team. The girl’s mother accused loyalists of trying to kill her family. She said: "My wee girl is lucky to be alive. There is no doubt loyalists did this. We are absolutely terrified and afraid they will come back and do the same thing again." SDLP MLA Joe Hendron said: "It sounds that the UDA was involved, but whatever organisation is doing it could have so easily taken the life of this little girl." (IN, RUC)

The North Antrim/Londonderry brigade of the UDA claimed to have grown considerably in recent weeks and accused other loyalists of "selling out". (LS)

Nationalist youths from the Bogside in Derry threw paint over the plinth of Walker's Monument on the city walls. (LS)

February 14, Wednesday
The UDA denied that it was behind the current wave of pipe bomb attacks, adding that people were using the name UDA as a flag of convenience. It also denied that the organisation was fragmenting. The claims were rubbished by politicians across the political spectrum. (IN, DJ)

It was reported that a Catholic man felt he was the victim of an attempted abduction by loyalists as he drove to work at the Mater Hospital. It has been claimed that his car was boxed in by two others on the Antrim Road. The man, fearing for his safety, left his car and escaped on foot along Lincoln Street. (RM)

February 15, Thursday
The Orange Order urged Protestants to push for more inquiries into the killing of unionists. The organisation urged the pursuance of campaigns with the same dogged determination as the Bloody Sunday Justice campaign, and the Robert Hamill, Rosemary Nelson and Pat Finucane campaigns. A statement read "it's time for justice and fair play for Protestants". (DJ)

The RUC raided a house in Newtownabbey on the outskirts of Belfast, seizing a number of pipe bombs, along with shotgun cartridges and ammunition. Two people were arrested. (IN, RUC)

Workers at Belfast's Mater hospital staged a protest to highlight death threats made to members of staff by the UDA. (IN, RM)

February 17, Saturday
The RUC seized a number of weapons during a raid on a house off the Crumlin Rd, Belfast. A man was held for questioning. (IN)

At around 2:15pm a caller to BBC Belfast claimed that a bomb had been placed under a car abandoned close to the Bloody Sunday monument on Rossville Street in Derry. Though RUC vehicles were at the scene, it was not sealed off or evacuated. Sinn Féin Assembly woman Mary Nelis asked: "If there was nothing suspicious about the car why was it necessary for the RUC to remain in Rossville Street for so long? If there was something in the car why were the lives of the people in the vicinity not taken into account?" (DJ)

Two petrol bombs were thrown at around 7pm in Derry, one targeting the Masonic army barracks and one landing in the Protestant Fountain area. (IN)

Loyalist teenagers in the White City area of Belfast attacked a Catholic couple and their one-year-old child. The couple were pushing their baby in a pram when around 15 youths started throwing stones and shouting sectarian abuse. They escaped without injury. (RM)

February 19, Monday
The couple arrested in Newtownabbey, Co Antrim on Feb 16, were charged with possessing explosives and firearms with intent. Darren and Linda Purdy were arraigned in a Belfast court on 3 charges connected to the discovery by RUC of pipe bombs, weapons, UVF membership materials, and a list of names of republican ex-prisoners in their home in Carn Crescent, Newtownabbey. The married couple were remanded in custody. Mrs Purdy told the court: "It wasn’t in my knowledge that anything like that was in my house." (IN)

February 21, Wednesday
A pipe bomb exploded in a garden of a home in the Knockmore estate on the Moira Road in Lisburn around 5:20am. The Catholic occupants escaped injury after this second attack in three days near the predominantly UDA controlled Old Warren estate. (IN, RUC)

A pipe bomb, shotgun and handgun, along with assorted ammunition were found at a vacant house in Daneshill Road, Coleraine. (RUC)

February 22, Thursday
An unoccupied waiting room of Sunningdale Taxis in north Belfast was pipe bombed at around 11:30pm leaving shrapnel in the walls and ceiling but no injuries. Loyalist politicians denied any connection to the UDA/UVF feud and Billy Hutchinson of the PUP blamed the attack on dissident loyalists. (IN, NBN)

February 23, Friday
Bomb warnings were declared "deliberate hoaxes" after a caller claiming to represent the Irish Freedom Fighters (IFF) told the Irish News that two devices were left at Boundary Way in the Shankill in Belfast and at Ross House flats in Mount Vernon. (IN)

Altnagelvin Hospital in Derry announced a probe into reports of a staff member openly displaying tattoos representing loyalist paramilitaries. Following visitor complaints a spokesperson referred to an internal ban on emblems and flags in the workplace and told the press "we will deal with it under that policy." (DJ)

Belfast high court heard testimony by RUC officers on the discovery last week of a pipe bomb factory and three primed pipe bombs, weapons, UVF membership documents, and a list of republican ex-prisoners at a house in Newtownabbey, Co Antrim. The bail application of Darren Purdy of Carn Crescent, New Mossley was adjourned for one week. (IN)

Five pipe bombs belonging to loyalists were seized by the RUC in Cloughmills, Co Antrim but no arrests were made. (IN, RUC)

February 25, Sunday
Shots were fired at a house in Nassau Street, west Belfast. There were no reports of any injuries. (RUC)

February 27, Tuesday
Unionists called for the Parade’s Commission to ban a St Patrick’s Day parade planned for Kilkeel. (IN)

It was reported that the RUC had begun warning almost 500 people that their personal details had been found in the hands of loyalist paramilitaries. It is the single largest find since the discovery of documents at Stoneyford Orange Hall in 1999. The RUC said they had not ruled out the possibility that the files had been passed on to loyalists by members of the security forces. Sinn Fein have called for a judicial review of the issue. (IN)

February 28, Wednesday
Northern Ireland international footballer Neil Lennon was substituted at half time in the friendly match against Norway after suffering sectarian abuse from loyalists throughout the first half of the match. Graffiti had appeared in a loyalist area in Lisburn before the match with the words "Neil Lennon R.I.P." beside a crude drawing of a figure being hanged. The abuse stems from the fact that Lennon plays for Glasgow Celtic, a Scottish football team with strong nationalist support in the north. (IN, PFC, AN, NBN)

A petrol bomb was thrown at a house in Millfield in Ballymena. No one was injured, and it has not yet been confirmed whether or not the attack was sectarian. (RUC)


AN: Andersonstown News.

BBC: BBC radio and television news, BBC online, Radio Foyle.

CW: Local community workers.

DJ: Derry Journal.

IN: Irish News.

IOS: Ireland on Sunday.

LS: Londonderry Sentinel.

NL: News Letter.

NBN: North Belfast News

PFC: Pat Finucane Centre.

RM: RM Distribution.

RUC: RUC website.

SP Sunday People.

ST Sunday Tribune.

Sectarian attacks section

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