26 November 2005

Loyalists warn couple not to return to home

Belfast Telegraph

Writer's family is torn apart by thugs

By Ashleigh Wallace
26 November 2005

THE wife of Ulster playwright Gary Mitchell has revealed how a spate of intimidation at the hands of loyalist paramilitaries has resulted in her family being torn apart.

Speaking last night, Alison Mitchell said the intimidation reached a peak earlier this week when their family home in Glengormley was petrol bombed.

Gary's elderly grandmother, who lived in Rathcoole for over half a decade, died this week.

However, the Mitchell family - including Gary's parents Chuck and Sandra - were warned they would be targeted by loyalists if they returned to the estate to pay their respects. The stress of the situation became so bad that Chuck had a heart attack.

Both Gary and Alison have been warned not to return to their home, which was targeted on Wednesday night. The couple and their seven-year old son Harry are now sleeping on floors of their relatives' houses.

A distraught Alison said: "The intimidation started two years ago when Gary made a film about loyalists called The Beast Sleeps. He started filming in Rathcoole, where he is from, but was told to get out.

"When Gary and I got married, we moved to Glengormley but in the past seven months our family have been subject to terrible intimidation.

"Chuck and Sandra have been forced out of their home in Rathcoole and Gary's sister and her young daughter also had to flee from the area.

"They tried to intimidate Gary's granny but she refused to be forced out. She died this week and we've told not to come into the estate.

"Her dying wish was to be buried from her home and we couldn't fulfil that wish."

Alison said the petrol bombers struck sometime around 9pm on Wednesday.

She said: "A guy tried to get into the house and another one wrecked our car. My little boy was screaming, saying he was going to die.

"My father in law collapsed, had a heart attack and was rushed to hospital.

"Gary's uncle Geordie also had his home attacked on Wednesday night. He's disabled and after what happened, he's now in hospital.

"We've been advised by the police not to return home for our safety.

"I don't even know where we're going to stay tomorrow night.

"We are supposed to be living in a peaceful society now and are lives have been shattered by these rogue paramilitaries."

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