Belfast Telegraph

Friday 22 August 2014

Sectarian petrol bombing sparks crackdown call

Petrol bomb attack in Co Londonderry is being treated as a sectarian hate crime by police.

In the early hours of Saturday morning, a petrol bomb was thrown at a Catholic woman’s car in the Killyvally Park area of Garvagh — destroying the car and causing substantial scorch damage to a nearby property.

The young mother-of-two, who has lived on the Killyvally estate for seven years was also targeted at Christmas, when the tyres of her vehicle were slashed.

The woman has said she has no idea why she is being singled out.

The SDLP’s John Dallat is now calling on Justice Minister David Ford to bring forward legislation which will impose severe jail sentences on “thugs” who endanger life.

Mr Dallat said: “The hate laws are totally inadequate to deal with thugs who specialise in filling bottles with petrol and throwing them, not knowing if they will burn out a car, burn down a house or murder someone.

“Garvagh has been quiet for a considerable time, ordinary people are trying to get on with their lives, earn a living, educate their children and put the past behind them,” he added.

“The sell-by date for petrol bombers is long over.

“It should never have started and most certainly it is time for laws which adequately address hate crimes.”

A house belonging to a couple in a mixed marriage in the same area was also scorch damaged overnight.

Ulster Unionist representatives for East Londonderry have condemned the attack.

In a joint statement, Councillor David Harding and Lesley MacAulay said: “We are aware that the police are investigating a sectarian motive for the attacks on a car and a house in Garvagh.

“Regardless of the motive, it is quite clear that the people of Killyvally and the rest of the town of Garvagh want nothing to do with whoever was responsible. They simply wish to live in peace with their neighbours.”

Detectives in Coleraine have said anyone who witnessed the petrol bombs being thrown, or anyone who can identify those responsible, can contact the PSNI on 0845 600 8000 or anonymously via the Crimestoppers charity on 0800 555 111.

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