Family targeted in pipe bomb attack

A FAMILY narrowly escaped injury in a pipe bomb attack on their home in Antrim yesterday.

The device was thrown at the Catholic family's house at about 3.45am yesterday in the Brantwood Gardens area of the town.

The Mayor of Antrim, UUP councillor Adrian Watson, condemned the attack and said the Quinn family were well respected and lived in what he described as a quiet, mixed-religion private housing development.

Paddy Quinn says his family have lived in the area for 24 years and he was at a loss to explain why they had been attacked. He and his wife have three children, aged 15, 20 and 21.

"It was about 3.45am I had fallen asleep on the sofa," he said. "Normally I would be up for work around this time. The next thing I knew everything had come in around me. The room was full of smoke and there was glass all over the place.

"The police said it was two young fellas on bicycles," he said. "They weren't big, probably 16 plus."

His wife said: "We just can't believe this has happened. There is glass stuck to the walls and ceiling, but there is nobody hurt, that is the main thing.

"We have had support from all the neighbours, people of all creeds have come and helped us clean up. People from all walks of life, they have been absolutely brilliant.

"This is a quite mixed area, everyone gets along with each other. The neighbours are now asking who is going to be next."

Mr Quinn said the only reason he can think they had been attacked might be because his two sons play for the local GAA club. He is also a GAA referee who has taken some high profile games in the past but not in recent months.

The couple said the device used to attack them had been a pipe bomb.

Detectives have appealed for anybody in the area at the time to come forward. They want to speak to two young men seen on bicycles. They also hope to speak to any milkmen who may have been in the vicinity. Police have not ruled out paramilitary involvement and are considering a sectarian motive.

Mr Watson said: "It is just devastating for them. The house has been very well managed and kept and they were proud of their home.

"This is something which has just shocked them, they have not had problems like this here before."

He continued: "I would condemn this utterly. We don't want to see anything like this, there is no justification for taking this action against a totally innocent family."

Antrim PUP representative Ken Wilkinson said he had visited the Quinn family. "We totally condemn this attack," he said. "The people I represent have moved on and I also understand that UDA representatives in Antrim feel exactly the same way. Dissidents of any type have nothing to offer the community."

A group describing itself as "the South Antrim Company of the Real UFF" claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was in retaliation for dissident republican activity. It is understood to be the second time the "Real UFF" name has been used to claim paramilitary activity in Antrim in recent weeks.