Fear follows shooting of Catholic


Source: The Irish Times

By Monika Unsworth, in Antrim

Fear and hostility were palpable on Antrim's Greystone Estate yesterday afternoon as shoppers hurried home, keen to avoid eye contact with neighbours and strangers.

"Sure, you can smell the fear around here, can't you? I'd be surprised if you got anybody to talk to you," said a middle-aged woman as she entered the local Spar shop. She was right.

Two minutes later the store's manageress appeared to escort The Irish Times off the premises. "We really don't like people asking questions around here after what happened," she explained firmly.

A few hours earlier a Catholic teenager, Mr Ciaran Cummings (19), had been shot dead as he waited for a lift to work at a nearby roundabout. A dissident loyalist group, the Red Hand Defenders, later admitted responsibility.

At first sight, Greystone conveyed the feeling of being a pleasant enough residential area, a "neutral buffer" between a number of fervently loyalist estates where children were busying themselves adding yet more layers of crates to their already 20 ft "11th night" pyres.

A cousin of the 19-year-old victim, who did not want to give his name, said: "All I can say is that our Ciaran was an innocent lad going to work, one of the few who actually had a job round here. He was threatened before, you know, by some loyalist thugs. This is basically a mixed estate, 50-50 I would say, with most people getting on well. They obviously can't stand that, these people."

Two young mothers seemed the only people openly discussing the incident over a garden fence. "I moved here from Ardoyne [a hard-line nationalist district of north Belfast] to get away from all this, the Troubles, the hassle," one explained.

"We had our windows smashed last week and an old lady down the road had her door kicked in last Thursday with a sledgehammer because she is a Catholic. All they want is to get everybody on edge Well, they are succeeding.

"We are sitting ducks here just waiting for the next thing to happen. Our Protestant neighbours are very good but they can't do anything about the sinister bully boys."

"If you have the money you can get away on holiday over the Twelfth," said her neighbour while two toddlers tore on her apron.

They both knew Mr Cummings as a lively, outgoing teenager. "Nice lad. He probably just gave somebody a bit of lip. That's all it takes when they have already earmarked you as a Catholic that they want out," the first woman said


This page last updated 21-Mar-2006