The Troubles in Coleraine

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The town of Coleraine, in County Londonderry, Northern Ireland, has seen its share of incidents during the Troubles. There have been 12 deaths in the town (since the first recorded incident in 1973) that were sectarian-related. Many more incidents have occurred where there was no loss of life, though some resulted in injury. The following is a chronological account of incidents in Coleraine:


Tuesday 12th June 1973

The Provincial IRA planted a car bomb on Railway Road, near the town centre. They did not give much warning, and six people were killed. They were Francis Campbell, aged 70, Dinah Campbell, aged 72, Nan Davis, aged 60, Robert Scott, aged 72, Elizabeth Craigmile, aged 76, and Elizabeth Palmer, aged 60. They were all Protestant civilians.

Thursday 2nd October 1975

Four Protestant members of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) were killed in Farrenlester, just outside Coleraine. They were in a car transporting a bomb when it exploded early. They were Samuel Swanson, aged 28, Mark Dodd, aged 17, Robert Freeman, aged 17, and Aubrey Reid, aged 25. The UVF had instigated several attacks across Northern Ireland on this day, in which 8 other people were killed.


Friday 13th November 1992

The IRA planted a 500lb bomb in a van in the commercial centre of the town, which detonated in the early hours. Though no injury or loss of live was incurred, the damage was so extensive that several prominent buildings were demolished. Many other buildings required huge restoration work carried out, including several listed buildings. The Town Hall was reopened in August 1995 following its repair and refurbishment. St Patrick’sChurch of Ireland church suffered major damage and the cost of repair and refurbishment was in the region of £1 million.

Monday 14th April 1997

A 24-year-old man suffered serious injury due to a gunshot wound. It was believed to be a Loyalist “punishment” shooting that took place in the Ballysally estate in the town.

Monday 6th July 1998

The home of a Catholic family was targeted with petrol bombs. No one was killed. Loyalists also damaged a Catholic-owned business in a petrol bomb attack.


Monday 11th September 2000

Loyalist paramilitaries threw a pipe bomb through the window of a home in the Ballysally estate. The family escaped uninjured.

Thursday 14th September 2000

Two people escaped uninjured after a pipe bomb exploded at their house. The reason for the attack was dubious.

Saturday 25th November 2000

Loyalist paramilitaries left a pipe bomb outside a Catholic-owned public house. It was defused.

Sunday 3rd December 2000

A Catholic family escaped without injury after a pipe bomb was thrown at their home in the Harpur’s Hill estate. Loyalists were responsible.

Thursday 7th December 2000

Two Catholic families had their homes attacked with pipe bombs. As a result of these and earlier attacks, the RUC* requested that the British Army deploy patrols in the town. In one attack, a 30-year-old man escaped injury when a pipe bomb bounced off his kitchen window and exploded in his back garden. Loyalists were believed responsible for the attacks.

Tuesday 16th January 2001

A Loyalist attack on the home of a Catholic family in the Heights area took place, with a pipe bomb exploding soon after midnight.

Monday 29th January 2001

Around 11pm, a pipe bomb was thrown through the kitchen window of a house in Harpur’s Hill. It failed to explode. The Catholic mother of two was in the kitchen at the time but was uninjured. Around an hour later, another pipe bomb was thrown through the living room window of another home. The Catholic couple in the house were not injured. Both attacks were said to be sectarian and carried out by Loyalist paramilitaries.

Saturday 23rd June 2001

A Catholic man, 25 year-old John Henry McCormick, was shot dead in Ballysally. Police believed that Loyalist paramilitaries were responsible. The RUC had visited McCormick just two days before he was killed to inform him of a threat to his life. His family had also been victims of a pipe bomb attack in May 2001.

Friday 10th August 2001

The Irish newspaper, The Irish Times, reported that 134 pipe bomb attacks had been carried out in NI during 2001. 19 of these were in Coleraine, 44 in Belfast, 12 in Ballymena, 6 in Larne and 5 in Ballymoney. Of the 134, only 50 had exploded. The rest had either been defused or had failed to explode. The Assistant Chief Constable at the time, Sam Kinkaid, laid blame for the attacks with the UDA.

Friday 24th August 2001

During a planned search in the Ballysally estate, police found a supply of ammunition. They arrested one man in connection.

Friday 5th October 2001

Around midnight, several shots were fired at the home of a Catholic family. Loyalist paramilitaries were believed to be responsible.

Wednesday 21st November 2001

Four men were arrested after police stopped a car on the Ballycastle Road. Two guns, ammunition, balaclavas, and gloves were found in the car, among other items. The arrests were linked to a Loyalist paramilitary group.

Thursday 3rd January 2002

UDA member, William Campbell, aged 19, was killed in a pipe bomb explosion near a derelict house in the Heights area around 11.30pm. Police believed that Loyalist paramilitaries may have used the house to store explosives, and that Campbell had been handling the device when it went off accidentally. It may have been fitted with a timer.

Saturday 7th October 2006

The DIY store, B+Q, was targeted in an arson attack. Police believed an incendiary device had been planted in the carpet section of the store. Significant damage was done by the smoke and the sprinkler system to both the store and the stock. It is believed that the sprinkler system contained the fire. The attack was condemned by both DUP and Sinn Fein.

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