RUC's role in loyalist attacks questioned
Originally published between January 28th and 30th, 2001
North Belfast residents are questioning the RUC's role in a series of life-threatening attacks in North Belfast.
In the past week, three people received warnings from the RUC. They were informed that their details were in the hands of loyalist death squads and that their lives were under "immediate threat."
In a chilling development, it is only hours after receiving these warnings that they, their families and property were attacked.
Last Sunday night, a son of leading republican Martin Meehan received warnings that his life was under threat.
Within hours, he awoke to the sound of bullets ripping through his home.
One bullet hit the wall outside the bedroom window. The other two entered through the bedroom and kitchen windows, lodging in walls inside the house.
The fact that the bullets were fired at the back of the house, in an area where it is virtually impossible for an outsider to recognise a particular home without very detailed information has raised alarm.
Such a development shows that the loyalist death squad responsible for the attack is in possession and is acting on very detailed information.
Four days earlier, last Thursday, a former republican received the same kind of warning when RUC officers visited his home.
In the morning, he stepped out of his home to find a bomb attached to his car. The device was the second discovered in Ardoyne since the UDA claimed to be committed to the Good Friday Agreement.
Finally, last Wednesday night Martin Meehan junior, also the son of the SF candidate for South Antrim, was warned by the RUC that personal details were in the hands of loyalists.
In the early hours of Thursday morning, live rounds of ammunition were fired at his family home.
Almost a week after the attack the Housing Executive had still not visited the home to assess the damage and secure the premises.
SERIOUS QUESTIONS ASKED
Local residents and political representatives are now demanding answers to their questions.
In all three cases, the RUC stated that details were in the hands of a death squad, but refused to give information regarding which organisation was issued threats or what details were available to their members.
"If the RUC are taking the trouble to carry out visits, why are they not disclosing the nature of the details?" asked Margaret McClenaghan, Sinn Fein representative in North Belfast.
"It is this kind of information, for example the registration of a car that is used to bring the children to school that can save lives."
Margaret McClenaghan also says that the RUC knows exactly which organisation is behind the threats.
"The RUC is giving the warnings on the basis of coded-word information. Given that they know exactly which group would use such codes, why are they not informing people about the source and nature of the threats?" she asked angrily.
Many residents are also questioning why the RUC seem to be turning a blind eye to the threats.
"The RUC are laying the ground work for these attacks to take place" said another fearful resident.
"It beggars belief that the UDA is able to carry out these attacks despite the RUC having prior knowledge of threats on individuals' lives" he said.
"What they are doing is sending out a signal that loyalist killers have nothing to fear from them interfering with their vicious plans."
It is no coincidence that the family of Martin Meehan is being targeted twice in less than a week.
The leading North Belfast republican has in recent years been breaking new ground in areas seen as traditional unionist and loyalist strongholds of South Antrim.
The South Antrim Westminster candidate has played a leading role in fighting sectarianism in areas such as Randelstown, Larne, Antrim and Crumlin where Catholics feel isolated and vulnerable.
FINGER POINTED AT UDA
There is also no doubt that such attacks are the work of the UDA.
Residents are now fearful of more attacks. At least seven other people have been warned in recent days that their lives are under immediate threat and people who have not received warnings are also being targeted.
Residents are also particularly worried at information suggesting that, in the aftermath of the murder attemps on the Meehan family, no car was seen or heard in the area.
"This suggests that the UDA is acting on very detailed and accurate information and is increasingly confident about coming into Ardoyne to carry out such attacks." said a resident.
People within the nationalist community and their political representatives have long pointed out that this campaign involves the large loyalist organisations and is not limited, as speculated, to factions of the different groupings.
Articles may be reprinted with credit.
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