Belfast Telegraph

Community worker's 'delight' at sentence

A NORTH Belfast grandmother whose home was bombed three times has said she hopes her attacker's 11-year jail term will act as a deterrent to others.

Award-winning cross-community worker Mary Kelly said she was "delighted" at the sentence given to Francis Paul McNally at Belfast Crown Court yesterday.

The 64-year-old, who won a Pride of Britain Award and was shortlisted for the Belfast Telegraph Making The Difference best neighbour accolade, had to flee her north Belfast home of 33 years after being targeted by loyalists between April and June 2010.

On one occasion a potentially lethal pipe-bomb of broken Stanley knife blades and pieces of broken mirror packed with fireworks, match heads and firelighters partially exploded on a windowsill, damaging her house in the nationalist Glandore Avenue.

At the time Ms Kelly, a Catholic, said she had no idea why she was targeted and urged those behind the attacks to engage in dialogue. Reacting to the sentence, Ms Kelly, who was not in court yesterday, said: "We have moved on. You have to be an example for the future. People like that only drag you back to the gutter.

"Maybe this will make them think twice and deter them."

McNally, who admitted possessing explosives with intent to endanger life just as his trial was about to start had been caught on CCTV. It is understood he was acting on the orders of a senior UVF man from the Mount Vernon area of Belfast.

McNally, whose father is Catholic, has 50 previous criminal convictions. He was also charged with rioting just 12 days before the attack at Glandore Avenue.

Ms Kelly added: "I had worked hard to buy a house and pay the mortgage. The house was sold and I had to move away from all the neighbours I had known for years. At my age that was difficult."

The Recorder of Belfast, Judge Tom Burgess, said McNally's actions were "the exact opposite to everything" that Ms Kelly had done and strived for.

"While this defendant did not carry out this attack for a terrorist cause, nevertheless it had as its intent, an equally sinister objective based on sectarianism," the judge said.

He praised Ms Kelly's bravery and resilience, describing her as "a lady of the highest principles with the drive and determination to rid our society of those malign influences which have devastate so many lives".

Judge Burgess said it was clear from the reports, "that McNally was aggrieved at Ms Kelly's involvement in, and devotion to, cross-community work".

He added that a forensic examination of the "amateurish" half-exploded homemade bomb showed its contents, adding "the consequences would have been life threatening" if anyone had been close to it exploding.

He said that by attacking Ms Kelly's home in this way, McNally had shown himself to be "only too willing to resort to violence".

Judge Burgess said that having concluded McNally posed a "significant risk of causing serious harm to members of the public" he would be passing an extended sentence as as result of which, it would be up to the Parole Commissioners when to release him and under what supervised licence conditions.

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