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1998: Children die in Drumcree protests
Three young brothers have been murdered in a loyalist arson attack in Ballymoney, Northern Ireland.

The boys - Richard Quinn, 11, Mark Quinn, 9, and Jason Quinn, 7 - were asleep in their beds when a petrol bomb was thrown through a window at the rear of their terraced house at about 0430 BST.

Their mother Chrissie, 29, her boyfriend Raymond Craig, 31 and a family friend, Christine Archibald, 18, escaped with minor injuries and are suffering from shock.

The Quinns were Catholics living on the predominantly Protestant Carnany estate, but they were accepted by the community and attended a Protestant school. Mr Craig is also a Protestant.

A fourth brother, Lee, was staying with his grandmother.

Threatening letters

Chief Constable of the RUC Ronnie Flanagan said: "What happened last night wasn't protest. We believe we're investigating the sectarian murder of three children."

The attack comes after a week of protests by Orangemen demanding access to the mainly nationalist Garvaghy Road as part of their annual march at Drumcree church.

Police dispersed a demonstration and barricades on the main road outside the Carnany estate last night.

Over the past week Catholic and mixed families across the county have received abuse and threatening letters.

The Orange Order's Co Armagh Chaplain Rev William Bingham expressed his sorrow to his loyalist congregation: "No road is worth a life let alone three lives of three little boys."

Local MP and leader of the DUP Ian Paisley has visited the scene and described the murders as "diabolical" and "repugnant".

All parties have appealed for calm after six hours of talks in Armagh broke down yesterday.

Nationalist residents of the Lower Ormeau Road in Belfast have already announced that they will not block Orange parades as a mark of respect and the RUC have scaled down their forces.

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Orangemen marching
The attack came after a week of protests by Orangemen at Drumcree

Drumcree boy deaths causes anger in Ireland

In Context
The boys' funeral took place two days later and was attended by thousands of Catholics and Protestants.

Afterwards the stand-off over Drumcree dwindled away.

In October 1999 Garfield Gilmour, 25, from Ballymoney was given three life sentences for murder. He had driven the car for three - unidentified - UVF men to attack the house. His conviction was later reduced to manslaughter.

The march at Drumcree Church celebrates the 1690 Battle of the Boyne. The route along Garvaghy Road has existed since 1807 but became the focus of inter-sectarian grievances in 1995.

Since 1997 the Orange Order has been banned from marching down the Garvaghy Road.

For the past few years the Orange men and women have been allowed to walk only as far as a security barrier which prevents them passing down the Garvaghy Road.

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