ATTACK: William (3-months), Lexi (1) and Roisin (11) injured in arson attack by thugs working for local loan shark
THREE young cousins are in hospital today following a petrol bomb attack on their grandmother's house.
An 11-year-old girl suffered serious burn injuries after she bravely saved the life of her one-year-old cousin when the fire bomb was thrown into the family home in Waterford last night.
The attack was part of an intimidation campaign by a loan shark on the family, family members told the Herald today.
Lexi Halligan (1), Roisin Halligan (11) and three-month-old William Halligan all suffered injuries after the device was thrown through the front window of the house in Ardmore Park, Ballybeg, Waterford, at around 9pm yesterday.
Grandmother, Nelly Halligan revealed what happened at the home.
"Murder they're getting away with. Roisin was sitting on the chair and it hit her in the face," she said.
Little Roisin, who is in sixth class in school, suffered the worst of the injuries in the attack. She jumped on her younger cousin Lexi to shield her from the flames.
Nelly Halligan (66) - a mother of 11 who is battling cancer - was today attempting to come to terms with what had happened to her grandchildren. She said she was distraught at the events. Speaking from the scene of the arson attack this morning, Nelly told the Herald what happened last night.
She said she had recently purchased a fire extinguisher after threats were made to her family.
One of her daughter's, Danielle, was attacked with a hammer in Feburary last year.
"My daughter came down to me for the weekend, with her two little babies. She was after putting them to bed in my son's room.
"Next thing I heard I heard a big bang,
"I heard my daughter running down the stairs screaming," she explained.
Lexi had also only returned from hospital after having a procedure on her eye.
"The bottle hit Roisin in the side of her face. She said 'come in to me Nanny'.
"She was screaming 'my face, my face,' she was saying 'it's my body and my legs'.
"She was badly burnt," Ms Halligan said.
A similar attack had happened on her daughter Linda's house and she explained how she then installed plastic windows, to prevent any further attacks.
Ms Halligan said that she was keeping a fire extinguisher in the house in case it was attacked like Linda's.
Some of the members of the Halligan family have had to move out of the area completely, such is the level of intimidation that they have suffered.
Ms Halligan, who had also been threatened by a thug, was in the kitchen when the petrol bomb was hurled into the front of her home.
Ms Halligan raced to save her children.
"I got the extinguisher. I had bought a small one (after the threats) and I started shouting 'someone - wet towels' but they were all in shock," she said.
Another man living nearby also helped the Halligan family as the children struggled with the flames.
A local man, who only wanted to be named as Michael, said that he saw the commotion going on and came over to help.
"I saw a big crowed panicking outside and no one doing anything. I ran into the kitchen, I got some water from the kitchen and I threw it on the fire.
"What cowardly bastard does that to children?
"The whole house was filled with smoke. I got one of the children and pulled her out," he explained.
The petrol bomb had landed right beside a couch that Ms Halligan would often lay down on.
Today, the room still smelled of petrol and smoke, while there was visible damage to the couches and other furniture,
Two of the injured cousins were in the room at the time - Lexi and Roisin while William was asleep in bed. He was taken to Waterford University Hospital for treatment for smoke inhalation.
Roisin and Lexi were taken to the same hospital for treatment to burns, but Roisin was later taken to Cork University hospital for a skin graft operation, where her mother Sabrina is by her side.
She suffered serious burns to her face and the side of her body after jumping to cover Lexi who also suffered burns in the incident.
Two of their other young cousins were also in bed at the time, but did not suffer serious injuries.
Five of Ms Halligan's daughters were in the house at the time of the attack and the family are certain about the motives.
Money lenders were demanding payment of thousands of euro from a family member - who was not in the house at the time of the attack.
One of the sisters, Danielle, has pressed charges following a hammer attack and alleged that she was offered €2,000 to drop the case.
"He wants to intimidate us to drop charges," she told the Herald.
She said that she had spoken to gardai around two weeks ago and told them about the threats that had been made.
"This has been going on for the last year and a half," she said.
The family believe that loan sharks and their hired thugs are behaving with impunity in the area.
This morning neighbours and friends gathered at the house to comfort the family.
Gardai investigating the incident arrested a 23-year-old man last night. He has been detained at Waterford garda station under Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act 1984.
Gardai have appealed for witnesses or anyone with information to contact them at Waterford garda station on 051 305300, the garda confidential line 1800 666111 or any garda station.