Even as Ulster's latest victim is buried, another bomb is found

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The Independent Online
THE FUNERAL of a Portadown, Co Armagh woman, killed in a loyalist pipebomb attack at the weekend, heard an impassioned plea yesterday for an end to violence and a settlement of the bitter local marching dispute.

But even as the woman was being buried police and Army experts were dealing with another pipebomb, which had been left at a Catholic primary school in Ballymena, Co Antrim.

The incidents are the latest in a long line of sectarian attacks carried out by loyalists. The fear is that they will grow in intensity in the run-up to the annual Drumcree parading controversy in Portadown.

The funeral was that of 59-year-old Elizabeth O'Neill, who was mother of two children and had one grandchild. Mrs O'Neill was a Protestant who had married a Catholic: mixed marriages are a frequent target of loyalist attack.

The Church of Ireland minister, the Rev David Chillingworth, told 700 mourners that her murder in the early hours of Saturday morning was "a terrible waste of life" which should spur local Orangemen and nationalist residents to resolve their row over the Drumcree march which is due to take place early next month.

He told a congregation that included the Ulster Unionist Party leader David Trimble: "I believe that disputes are settled when it is time for them to be settled. I say with all the moral and spiritual and pastoral strength I can command that I believe that the time for honourable agreement is now.

"It's not just the men of violence. It's not just Drumcree. It's all of us. Sectarianism lives in all of us - it is in the choices we make, it is in the words we say, it is even in the friends we make. It lives in our churches and it taints our community life. It makes possible the violent actions which we abhor."

In Ballymena, meanwhile, a caretaker at St Mary's primary school discovered a pipebomb left by a door just before children were due to arrive yesterday morning. Pupils were evacuated to another nearby school while the device was dealt with.

RUC Chief Inspector Bill Woodside said a child or anyone else picking up the bomb could have been killed or seriously injured. He added: "It's absolutely incredible that anyone would leave a device of this type at a school. There are over 120 children at this school and this can only be viewed as an attack on the whole Catholic community in Ballymena."

The local MP, the Rev Ian Paisley, condemned the incident, saying: "Have these people not seen the harm such bombs have done across Northern Ireland in the last 72 hours? Such activists are not wanted in Ballymena. On behalf of the entire community I am telling them to get out and stay out. They will destroy this town."