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O’Loans: paint bomb attack on our home won’t intimidate us

By Lesley-Anne Henry

A paint bomb attack at the home of Northern Ireland’s former Police Ombudsman is being treated as a hate crime.

Substantial damage was caused to Dame Nuala O’Loan’s house in the Old Park area of Ballymena in the early hours of yesterday.

Another house at Waveney Avenue was targeted and two cars were also splattered with paint.

Mrs O’Loan’s husband, SDLP councillor Declan O’Loan said they would not be intimidated.

“This was a regrettable incident which the police are actively investigating. No immediate motive is known but I understand it will be classed as a hate crime. The mess will be cleared up and life will go on,” he said.

Dame Nuala was appointed as Northern Ireland's first Police Ombudsman 10 years ago after the role was created as part of peace process reforms to make policing more accountable.

She served for eight years and examined a series of high-profile cases of alleged security force collusion with paramilitaries during the Troubles.

She also investigated the police inquiry into the 1998 Omagh bombing, producing a damning report on the Royal Ulster Constabulary's handling of the case.

She stood down in 2007 and was replaced by current Ombudsman Al Hutchinson.

In 2008 she was made a Dame in the New Year Honours list and was appointed by the Irish government as its special envoy to East Timor.

This is not the first time Mrs O’Loan’s family have been targeted. In June 2006 her son Damian was beaten by a gang close to his home. The 23-year-old was left with serious head injuries, a broken arm and damage to his leg after being attacked by four youths.

Alliance Party justice spokesman Stephen Farry condemned those behind this latest attack.

“This was an utterly contemptible attack.

“Public representatives and others who have served the community should be able to get on with their work and life free from fear and intimidation.

“An attack on a politician or their property is an attack on democracy and must be condemned by all.

“People should be able to feel safe in their home at all times. Anyone with information on this incident should contact police immediately.”

Ballymena TUV councillor James Alexander, who lives close to the O’Loan family home, branded the perpetrators “hooligans”.

“It is utterly deplorable and there is no reason for anything like that. It is a lot of young hooligans who think they are trying to prove something — they prove nothing only their own mentality which is total ignorance,” he said.

“Attacks like this do nothing to help community relations in the town. This community doesn’t need this.”

Belfast Telegraph


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