MOURNERS ATTACKED AT CHURCH SERVICE
A mob of up to 200 loyalists disrupted a Catholic church
service at a cemetery on the outskirts of Belfast on Sunday
afternoon and later threw bricks and stones at service-goers.
Loyalist youths later hijacked two vehicles and set them
alight at Doonbeg Drive in the nearby Rathcoole Estate.
The attack followed death threats against Father Dan White,
parish priest of St Mary's on the Hill church in Glengormley,
who conducted the service.
Father White said he had been warned by police late last week
of death threats against him.
"I think what we've had was a disgraceful exhibition of
bigotry and anti-Catholic prejudice," he said.
"I think that's something that's always simmering under the
surface in our society, but unfortunately we saw it and we
heard it today in all its repugnance."
The 'Cemetery Sunday' service was previously the victim of a
loyalist bomb attack in June 2001.
Trouble was feared at the service after Catholic graves were
damaged in the cemetery earlier this week. Five Celtic cross
tombstones were broken or knocked down when vandals attacked
graves early on Monday.
Then on Friday, graffiti was daubed on the doors of the
Catholic church. Tthe letters KAT -- an abbreviation for the
loyalist slogan 'kill all taigs [Catholics]' -- was painted on
the main entrance to the church.
More than 20 memorials at Catholic graves in the cemetery were
vandalised in June. Crosses were smashed and headstones
overturned in an attack blamed on loyalists.
The cemetery is beside Rathcoole estate, a housing estate
where Catholic postman Daniel McColgan (20) was murdered by
loyalist paramilitaries of the Ulster Defence Association as
he arrived for work in January 2002. His grave in Carnmoney
was damaged in a similar attack the following May.
The attacks were the final straw for a father-of-three.
The man said the latest desecration of his wife's grave had
compounded his grief and that of his 12-year-old son and
"I'm thinking of taking her out of Carnmoney. I can't go on
like this," said the man, who does not want to be identified.
After assessing the damage the widower broke the news to his
children who lost their mother to breast cancer in 1999.
"My wife's sister came to pay her respects and found the
gravestone vandalised. If she hadn't of come down, I wouldn't
have been told," he said.
"I am absolutely devastated. It's been hard enough getting
over my wife's death, but to come down and see this
"They're just vandals, bigoted and full of hatred. There is no
doubt this was sectarian.
"They know if there is a Celtic cross a Catholic is probably
* Meanwhile, pipe bombs were found today in the grounds of two
Catholic schools in County Derry. Pupils were kept away from
St Mary's High School in Limavady and St Patrick's College,
Dungiven because of the security alert.
Mass at a nearby Catholic church in Limavady was also
There were also renewed sectarian attacks on Catholic homes in
Deerpark in north Belfast; while eight graves were also
desecrated at a Catholic cemetery near Scarva, County Down.