Sectarian Attacks


In our document on Rosemary Nelson, we included an appendix that listed all known loyalist attacks from 1 January 1999 through 30 April 1999. Given the nature of the document the list focused on loyalist attacks.Since that time, we have continued to document attacks across the North, expanding our remit to include all attacks that might be considered sectarian (sometimes, however, the motives aren’t always clear.)

The following list of sectarian attacks is from 30 April 1999 through 31 July 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.(ie the recent murder of Charles Bennett in Belfast)  We have also not included violent incidents connected to feuding within loyalism.

We will update this list each month.

Sectarian Attacks (from April 28)

April 30 – The RUC warns two brothers in south Derry that bullets had been found in letters addressed to them. A Post Office scanner in Cookstown, Co. Tyrone found the two .38 calibre bullets in the sorting office. The letters were signed "OVF".

Johnny Adair, a well-known UDA man out on weekend parole from prison, survives an assassination attempt. He was shot and injured at an open-air concert in Belfast. Republicans deny any involvement in the incident.

May 2 – In the Village area of Belfast, up to eight men attacked a Catholic male nurse returning home with two female colleagues. He is punched, kicked and dragged into an entry where he is savagely beaten. He sustains multiple slash wounds to his back, arms and chest from either a knife or a blade and there is severe bruising to his head and body. An RUC spokesperson says the attack was being treated as a sectarian.

Near the loyalist Mourneview estate in Lurgan, a man dressed in a red loyalist band uniform and wielding a bottle knocks a Catholic man to the ground and kicks him while shouting sectarian comments. The man receives considerable bruising to his face and head.

May 4 – In the early hours of the morning, a gang of 10 teenagers attack a 16-year old north Belfast boy and his girlfriend. The boy is kicked in the head and receives cuts and possibly a broken arm; the girl is hurt as she attempts to help him. The attack occurs near the corner of Landsdowne and Antrim Roads and is believed to be sectarian.

May 5 – Two 12-year old Belfast boys narrowly escape death when a loyalist’s gun jams. As they run to safety, the gunman manages to fire four or five shots in their direction and at passers-by. The attack occurs outside a bookmaker’s in the Ardoyne area of north Belfast. RUC Inspector Bob Morrissey says the intended target was probably the shop, rather than the boys and states that the incident is being treated as sectarian. Claims also surface that the attack is in retaliation for the shooting of prominent loyalist Johnny Adair on May 1.

A pipe bomb wrapped in nails blows a hole in the wall of a home of a Catholic couple living in a loyalist area of south Belfast. The words "taigs out" are spray painted across their living room window and gable wall of the house. Although the woman escapes unharmed, her husband receives minor leg injuries.

May 6 – RUC inform a prominent community worker in the Ardoyne area of Belfast that she is on a loyalist death list.

May 7 – A 29-year old Lurgan man is beaten by loyalist youths soon after an Orange march in the town.

The RUC warn the wife of a prominent spokesperson for the Bellaghy Concerned Residents’ Group of a possible bomb planted at their home by the Orange Volunteers. After an RUC search, nothing is found.

May 8/9 – Shortly before 1 am, a petrol bomb is thrown into the home of a Catholic man in Antrim’s Parkhall estate. The man escapes through a back window unharmed but the fire causes substantial damage to the home. Another petrol bomb -- thrown at the same time -- damages a neighbour’s car. An RUC spokesperson says the attack is being viewed as sectarian.

A petrol bomb is thrown at the home of a Catholic family living in a mixed estate in Armagh.

May 13 – In an attack claimed by the Protestant Liberation Force, a lone gunman shoots a 39-year old Co Derry man in the leg and chest. The attack occurs outside of a building site in Carrickfergus, Co Antrim.

Weekend of May 15-16 – RUC warn more than 150 Catholics -- many from the Belfast area -- that their names and personal details are on a loyalist hit list. A number of those who had been notified question why the RUC waited so long to disclose this information (the RUC had obtained this information on February 24.)

May 15 – The LVF issue the following statement one year after declaring a ceasefire:

We treat with utter contempt the statement made by Sinn Fein/IRA in Downing Street to the effect that loyalists such as the LVF and the UDA are engaged in military actions openly claimed by other loyalist organisations.

The LVF has maintained a full and credible ceasefire since May 15 1998 in spite of severe provocation from republican puppet organisations such as the Garvaghy Road residents and their fellow travellers.

Our intelligence officers have no evidence that our fellow loyalists in the UDA/UFF grouping have been involved in any military operations either.

But we have evidence that black propaganda has been created by elements of the PUP and their fellow communists in the republican movement.

This is the source of the recent verbal rubbish mouthed by Adams.

With the above facts in mind, government let puppet communist traitors in the Shankill area and two-faced republicans take note – we shall not stand idly by and wait for your hand of treachery to strike at true loyalism.

We retain our right on behalf of the loyalist people to act decisively.

An Orange hall in Donaghmore, Co Tyrone came under arson attack. The fire was started with a flammable liquid and caused substantial damage to the building.

The RUC warns a south Belfast mother of nine that she is on a loyalist death list because of one of her sons.

May 16 – Residents of the Garvaghy Road in Portadown report seeing a device being thrown from a car which later exploded. An RUC spokesperson says the area was later combed but that no evidence of a device had been found. Breandan McCionnaith claims the RUC neither sealed off the area nor searched for debris after they arrived on the scene.

May 17 – RUC warn Gerard Rice, spokesperson for the Lower Ormeau Concerned Community that he is on a loyalist death list. Details about his car and his address were among 150 names found in possession of loyalist James Anderson, who appeared in Belfast magistrate’s court on February 26. Officers warned Mr Rice’s parents that their names were on the list as well.

May 18 - Shortly before 2am, a petrol bomb is thrown at a home in the Antiville estate in East Antrim. The lone occupant is uninjured.

Two Loyalists wearing balaclavas throw stones at SDLP councillor Danny O’Connor (East Antrim) after he gives an interview to BBC radio regarding the petrol bomb attack in the area. During the taping, Mr O’Connor describes the incident as "the work of loyalists acting with impunity". He continues, "For the police to say they have not established a motive for an attack on a Catholic man who lived alone and did no harm to anyone is ridiculous."

Three consecutive nights of loyalist violence breaks out in Portadown following an Orange march. Catholic homes in Obins Drive and Obins Avenue are attacked with petrol bombs.

May 19 - A bus carrying students from St Joseph’s College is stoned on the Ravenhill Road as it passes My Lady’s Road in Belfast. Several teenage girls are treated for shock and minor cuts.

Calls are made for an inquiry into why it took the RUC two months to inform more than 150 nationalists that their names appeared on a loyalist hit list. The list is alleged to be recent with some information gathered within the last two years.

May 21 – At 12:40am, after failing to gain entrance to Red Devils pub, a man throws a grenade outside of Caffrey’s pub at the corner of Falls Road and Broadway in west Belfast. The man flees in a car. Three people are treated for shrapnel injuries while around 250 other people escape harm.

Around 11pm, two gunmen fired up to seven shots at the jeep of Catholic youth worker in the Shankill area of Belfast. The man escapes injury. He later said that RUC officers had previously warned him of a possible attack if he did not inform on IRA members.

May 23 – Protestant woman and her Catholic husband leave Antrim after being threatened by known loyalists.

May 26 – The Irish News quotes Taoiseach Bertie Ahern as saying:

Though it is not getting an awful lot of attention, there are nightly attacks on nationalist areas. There have been 158 on the last count – but I am sure this weekend added to that – almost exclusively on nationalists. There are a number of splinter groups on the loyalist side who are aggressively attacking – through pipe bombs, nail bombs, gun attacks and firebombs – nationalist areas.

May 28 - Shortly before 3am, a pipe bomb explodes in front of a Catholic family’s home in Armagh. The device breaks a window and causes minor damage to the house; the family escapes unharmed. Last July, the family’s car was burned and in 1997, a device was pushed through their letterbox.

May 29 – Around 8pm, a loyalist gang of about 15 beats a Catholic couple in a wine bar. After entering the bar, the group announces they are loyalist paramilitaries and tells them they are "going to get a beating". The man is knocked to ground with a barstool. As his wife attempted to come to his aid, she is attacked and dragged outside onto the road. The couple is moving from their home in Larne, Co. Antrim.

May 31 – At around 11:30pm, a petrol bomb is thrown against the wall of a house in the loyalist Nelson Drive area of Derry. The male resident escaped uninjured. Derry DUP Assembly member William Hay blames loyalist paramilitaries. An RUC spokesperson said the incident is being treated as sectarian.

June 1 – Two men are injured when a stolen car mounted the pavement outside the Royal Bar at Sandy Row in south Belfast. The car was later found burnt out in the Falls Road area of west Belfast. UDP leader, Gary McMichael, blames republicans and describes the incident as "a carefully planned attack which can only be described as a sectarian attempted murder." (The incident turns out to be connected to an ongoing feud within loyalism.)

Shortly after 2am, a petrol bomb is thrown at the front door of a home on the Moorlough Road in Strabane, Co.Tyrone. A 63-year-old Catholic mother and her four sons escaped unharmed.

Petrol bomb attacks are also carried out on Catholics in Antrim and Derry’s Waterside.

June 4/5 – Loyalists throw a blast bomb into a Portadown home. The occupant of the flat, 59- year old Elizabeth O’Neill attempts to throw the device out of her home but it explodes and kills her instantly. She is married to a Catholic.

A blast bomb explodes in another Portadown home. A woman was inside with her 10-month-old baby and sister, aged 17. No one is injured.

A Catholic family narrowly escape a grenade attack on their home in Hilltown, Co. Down.

A pipe bomb was made safe after it was discovered at a house in the Catholic Short Strand area of east Belfast.

Several families were evacuated from their homes in Twinbrook, west Belfast while the Army dealt with two pipe bombs.

Pipe bombs are thrown at Catholic homes in Castlewellan, Co. Down and in East Belfast.

June 7 – A pipe bomb is found at St. Mary’s primary school in Ballymena, Co. Antrim. Nearly 120 children up to the age of 12 are evacuated from school grounds. The school had previously been subject to an arson attack related to the parades dispute in nearby Dunloy.

June 9 – An explosive device is discovered at a postal sorting office in Larne, Co. Antrim.

June 16 – A suspected explosive device is found at St. Mary’s primary school in Newtownbutler, Co. Fermanagh.

June 17 – Loyalists stage a picket outside the Ballycastle (Co. Antrim) home of Sinn Fein councillor James McCarry. The group claimed the protest was connected to McCarry’s opposition to loyalist parades through the predominantly nationalist town of Ballycastle. McCarry claims protestors wore masks and kicked his front and back doors during the protest.

June 18 – Ballycastle Sinn Fein councillor, James McCarry, is warned in a telephone call from the UVF that he will be shot before the end of the summer.

June 23 – Loyalists throw a brick through the window of a house belonging to a North Belfast Catholic. The incident – allegedly one of many – happened shortly after the end of the Orange Order’s Tour of the North parade.

June 26 – A group of loyalists run amok in Ardoyne’s Brompton Park – a Catholic enclave in N. Belfast. The group smashes car windows, throw bricks and stones and attempt to abduct an area resident.

June 29 – A Catholic woman and her 6-year old son escape a pipe bomb attack on their south Belfast home.

July 4 -- An Orange Hall in Warrenpoint, Co. Down is extensively damaged in an arson attack. The hall had been used as a cross-community venue – it had even been used for the Warrenpoint Feis. Unionist and nationalist politicians condemned the attack.

A Free Presbyterian church at Corragarry in Drum, Co. Monaghan is damaged in an arson attack. A temporary building and a single-storey extension connected to the church are also damaged.

A fire that gutted a Protestant mission hall in Tobermore, Co. Derry is regarded by the RUC as "suspicious".

July 7 – Two Catholic homes in the Graymount Crescent area of north Belfast come under sectarian attack. Flammable liquid was poured through their letterboxes and set alight. The families managed to put out the flames before the Fire Brigade arrives.

July 8 – A string of overnight sectarian attacks are carried out across the North.

homes in the Nationalist Markets area of Belfast come under attack arsonists target a Catholic-owned video shop in Carrickfergus, Co Antrim loyalists left a pipe bomb outside the house of a Sinn Fein member in Ballycastle, Co. Antrim loyalists from the Donegall Pass area of Belfast throw bricks and stones at houses just off Ormeau Ave.

July 11 – Arsonists try to burn down 2 Catholic churches. St. Patrick’s Church in Derriaghy, Co. Antrim and St. Patrick’s Church in Chapel Hill, Lisburn (also Co. Antrim) were both targeted on the night of the 11th. Over the past few years, three other Catholic churches in this parish have come under attack. The Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Brigid and St. Joseph’s Church have both been burned to the ground (the former has since been rebuilt.) Various arson attacks have also been made on St. Coleman’s Church in Hillsborough.

A Catholic family is forced out of the Sallagh Park area of Larne, Co. Antrim.

July 14 – Windows were broken and a Union flag was removed from the Tullintrain Orange hall just outside of Derry City.

July 15 – A Catholic man from Ballymoney, Co. Antrim is attacked in his home by a masked loyalist gang.

July 19 – The home of a Catholic woman comes under petrol bomb attack by loyalists. The woman, a prominent community worker, lives in the Whitewell Rd. area of north Belfast with her three young children. No one is injured.

Another Catholic single mother of three is forced to flee from her Limavady (Co. Derry) home after receiving a threat that she would soon be burned out.

July 21 – The Moyarget Orange hall near Ballycastle, Co. Antrim is gutted in an arson attack. The attack, claimed by the previously unknown Moyle Action Group, is "in revenge for attacks on nationalists in Ballycastle".

July 22 – The LVF issue a statement ruling out any further decommissioning. According to former LVF go-between, Pastor Kenny McClinton, "The chances of decommissioning from the LVF are nil. I can’t see any further decommissioning at all unless there are drastic changes in the particular circumstances of Mark Fulton’s imprisonment, as he is currently the key man to making that move. The other aspect is that a public inquiry into the murder of Billy Wright is needed. There is still a lot of anger about that."

The LVF is the only paramilitary organisation to have handed over any weapons for destruction. A small quantity of LVF guns and explosives was destroyed last year in what was widely regarded as a publicity stunt.

July 23 – A bomb is diffused outside a GAA club in Dungannon, Co. Tyrone.

July 24/25 – A 22-year old man is a victim of a sectarian attack in Belfast. The attack takes place on the Stewartstown Road in front of Woodbourne RUC station. The young man is set upon by three loyalists who beat him unconscious, strip him naked and leave him for dead. He sustains a broken nose and severe bruising.

July 25 – The Samaritans receive a warning that loyalists had placed a bomb outside the home of James McCarry, a Sinn Fein Councillor in Ballycastle, Co. Antrim. McCarry – the first Sinn Fein member to be issued with a firearms certificate – has repeatedly been targeted by loyalists since his election to Moyle council in 1989. He was issued with a firearm certificate after Mo Mowlam reversed a RUC decision barring the councillor from carrying a gun for personal protection.

July 27 – A Catholic church in Moneymore, Co. Derry comes under pipe bomb attack. No one is injured in the incident.

July 28 – A 15-year old Catholic boy is assaulted as loyalists remove an Orange Arch from the Garvaghy Road in Portadown. The youth was beaten up by loyalist within yards of two RUC land rovers.

July 29 – The home of a young Catholic mother living in Derry’s Waterside comes under attack. A breezeblock is thrown through the window at around 4:40 am. The attack is believed to be sectarian.

31 July – The Andersontown News reports that a taxi driver from the loyalist Shankill Road is the victim of a sectarian attack outside the Royal Victoria Hospital in west Belfast. The attacker shouted sectarian abuse, broke the driver’s side window and punched the taxi driver in the face.

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