Publican averted Ulster massacre

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The Independent Online
A LANDLORD'S fear that his pub could become a target for loyalist gunmen has prevented a massacre in Northern Ireland.

A few minutes after John Loy locked the outer doors of the Hawthorne Inn at Annaclone, County Down, terrorists opened fire. The attack on the Catholic pub came as 40 people watched the World Cup final on Sunday night. Seven customers were injured by flying glass but a repeat of last month's slaughter in the nearby village of Loughinisland was avoided.

Yesterday, the loyalist Ulster Freedom Fighters issued a statement claiming responsibility and adding: 'Two heavy locked mahogany front doors prevented our volunteers from inflicting heavy casualties.' The gunmen had to fire through the windows.

Mr Loy said: 'There was gunfire, machine-gun fire. Everyone hit the floor. There was panic for a few minutes with people screaming and screeching. It's God's grace that nobody was killed.'

The Loughinisland shooting had made him realise how vulnerable his pub was to attack and he decided to shut the doors at night. He added: 'We were expecting this, there was a car about a fortnight ago, with four boys in it.'

None of the casualties were seriously hurt, although five were still in hospital yesterday.

Six men were being questioned last night about loyalist attacks including the one at Loughinisland. The arrests in Belfast and Co Down are believed to have been planned before Sunday's attack.

The IRA yesterday named the alleged police informer whose body was found on Sunday in Co Fermanagh. Caroline Mooreland, 34, a mother of three, from Belfast, had been shot in the head.

The murder of Ms Mooreland was only the second time in 25 years that the Provisionals have killed a woman for being an alleged informer. The terrorists claimed that she had been passing information to the Royal Ulster Constabulary. The RUC refused to confirm or deny the claims.

Dr Joe Hendron, SDLP MP for West Belfast, said: 'I think it was an act of sheer savagery to take a woman like that, a mother of three young children, for what they call questioning. I am sure she was brutalised. Then to shoot her in the head and throw her like an animal somewhere along the border . . . it is an act of savage gangsters.'