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Cousin of murdered Quinn boys survives Rasharkin gun attack

By Nevin Farrell

A cousin of three young boys who died in one of the most horrific acts of the Troubles has escaped death by inches after a gun attack on his house.

The resident was "lucky to be alive" according to neighbours who said the violent incident in Rasharkin on Monday night brought back terrible memories of the 1998 firebombing in nearby Ballymoney, when the three Quinn children died in a UVF arson attack at the height of the Drumcree parade crisis.

Named locally as Michael Patton, a wheelchair-user believed to be in his late 30s, he cheated death by inches in the gun attack on his home at Moneyleck Park at 10.20pm on Monday, neighbours said.

One source commented: "He had a miracle escape and is lucky to be alive. Michael is a cousin of the Quinn boys who died so tragically all those years ago."

The Quinn brothers' home in Ballymoney was attacked with a petrol bomb on July 12, 1998. Richard (11), Mark (10) and nine-year-old Jason died in the fireball which engulfed their home. Nineteen years ago their wake was held at the home of their gran, Irene, at Moneyleck Park where she still lives, just across the road from Monday night's shooting.

The source said: "We are fortunate that we do not have a double tragedy here in Rasharkin today, as Michael was in the house with his daughter Demi, who is aged about 12. Thankfully she was not hurt but she was badly shaken up."

At the scene yesterday, a neighbour added: "Two shots were fired into the house on Monday night and there were huge bangs. A neighbour rang for an ambulance, which came and took Michael to the Causeway Hospital in Coleraine."

The neighbour said Mr Patton was not seriously injured and was able to sign himself out of hospital. Another resident said the incident had stunned the local area, and explained that Mr Patton had lived in the bungalow at the entrance to Moneyleck Park for around a year.

Police have not commented on a motive but North Antrim DUP candidate Mervyn Storey said the PSNI did not believe it was terrorist-related or sectarian.

Condemning those responsible for the shooting, Mr Storey said: "It is extremely worrying that there are those in our society who are prepared to use firearms and force to impose their form of justice.

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