08 May 2006

Victim claims mob’s attack was sectarian

Daily Ireland

Windows are broken by loyalists

By Connla Young
8 May 2006

A man whose home was attacked at the weekend has said he was targeted for being a Catholic.
A window in Michael Conway’s home in Garvagh, Co Derry, was broken by a mob of loyalists early yesterday.
The incident took place only a week after a Catholic-owned hotel was targeted in a similar incident several hundred metres away.
Mr Conway, who runs a taxi business in the town with his wife Siobhán, told Daily Ireland last night that he would not be forced from his home.
The weekend’s sectarian attack was the third time the family had been targeted in recent years.
“We were targeted simply for being Catholic. It’s coming up to the time of the year for it.
“Our sons were attacked three weeks ago. The boys who did this are known to me. Everybody in the town knows who did it.
“But I’ll be standing where I’m at. My family have been here for over 100 years. The last time something like this happened, the Protestant community stood by us. A lot of neighbours contacted us and already they are contacting us again. We know the people who did this don’t represent them. They represent nobody.”
An emotional Siobhán Conway said: “It was a rude awakening and very frightening. Your initial thought is: What is happening here?”
Daily Ireland has learned that loyalists in the town last week targeted an elderly Catholic family.
East Derry SDLP assembly member John Dallat demanded tough PSNI action to catch the culprits.
“Michael and Siobhán Conway were in bed when they heard six or seven bangs at their living-room window and knew immediately that they were under attack.
“Siobhán rushed downstairs and managed to get a very good description of the thugs involved, and a full statement has been given to the police.
“I have demanded that those involved are arrested immediately and fast-tracked through the legal system. The Conway family work hard running a taxi business which is available to everyone.
“The pensioners who had their home attacked on Thursday night were severely traumatised when I visited them the following morning.
“The Housing Executive is currently renovating their home and they were so looking forward to a few years of comfort, peace and happiness.
“Sadly, well-known sectarian bigots who have little or no support among anyone in the community are determined to ruin their dream.
“This current spate of attacks began when a Catholic boy was set upon by three thugs who drew up in a car three weeks ago. On that occasion, the youth was rescued by others who came to his aid,” said Mr Dallat.
The SDLP man said he feared that tensions would rise in the area in the run-up to the marching season.
“I believe this is a ‘warm-up’ for the marching season and consequently I have asked for an urgent meeting with the Parades Commission to discuss a number of parades scheduled for Garvagh in the coming weeks.
“I don’t believe it is prudent to allow these to proceed in their present form, leaving families exposed to the danger that their homes will be attacked again with the potential for further damage to people or their property.
“Those involved are misrepresenting good relations between Catholics and Protestants. Sadly, however, we still have DUP representatives rushing to the defence of these thugs and they need to accept that they are being used time and time again. That must stop.”
The PSNI confirmed that the force was treating the attack on the Conway family as sectarian and confirmed that two men are being questioned.

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