‘No quality of life’ at interface

Published Tuesday, 30 July 2013
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A man who has lived at a north Belfast interface for more than 30 years has said he and his wife have “no quality of life” because of continued sectarian attacks.

‘No quality of life’ at interface
The north Belfast resident says attacks happen frequently in the area. (© UTV)

Joe Keenan claims that threats and abuse began the very first night he moved into the Oldpark area near the peaceline, when his windows were smashed.

He says his home has been attacked dozens of times in the past year by nationalists.

The 57-year-old has installed CCTV outside his home and has had to replace numerous doors and windows.

"It's just ongoing all the time," he told UTV.

Mr Keenan described incidents where bricks, bottles and golf balls have been thrown.

"When you're standing at the door or the gate, you see a few golf balls just bouncing by. You just get used to it," he explained.

"Sometimes I don't go to bed until three or four o'clock in the morning because you are just waiting for something to happen."

You’re just living day by day, waiting for the next attack.

Joe Keenan, Oldpark resident

Mr Keenan was one resident who witnessed a number of people shouting sectarian abuse and threats in the area on Monday evening.

He attended talks with PSNI on Tuesday, as unionist politicians called for more to be done to tackle the increasing problem.

They called for community leaders in nationalist areas as well as PSNI officers to take action.

DUP North Belfast MLA William Humphrey led the delegation that met with PSNI Area Commander Andrew Freeburn at Tennent Street station.

"Since the 12 July, residents living close to the interface on lower Oldpark Road have had bottles and golf balls thrown at their houses by republicans virtually on a nightly basis," he said following the meeting.

"Last night there was a significant and deliberate act of intimidation. They shouted pro-IRA slogans and sectarian abuse.

"This was a frightening and intimidating experience for residents."

He said the meeting had been "robust" and that they had passed on information on threats against the Lower Oldpark community.

"We asked the police to increase their resources in the area, to provide protection and reassurance for residents, and to review footage from the CCTV interface camera on Oldpark Road," he added.

A PSNI spokesperson has said they are aware of a number of incidents in the area since the 12 July - which have been committed against both sides of the community.

Four arrests have been made in connection with public order and criminal damage offences.

"Local Neighbourhood officers have met with community representatives and interested parties from both communities and are working in partnership with all sides to reduce tensions in the area," they added.

Local Sinn Féin representative Danny Lavery condemned any sectarian acts in the area, which he said have happened in both communities.

"From the Eleventh night and the Twelfth night, there has been six cars burnt out and people throwing petrol bombs," he said.

"I am calling on both sides to stop doing it."

Mr Lavery said nationalist representatives have been out on the street to try and deter any incidents.

He added: "People want to be living in peace and quiet without this coming to our door every night."

© UTV News
Comments Comments
15 Comments
iain in west belfast wrote (446 days ago):
to bigmac if you followed what is going on in the country, you wold have seen this story has not just popped up, this person has told his story on many occasions before
Eamo in Belfast wrote (447 days ago):
To Jackie yes it is bad what has happened to this guy but read York Road post. It is really funny how now thus man has just opened up about the attacks on his property. The fact is the DUP are loosing votes and this maybe will win some back. This is happening on a nightly basis on both sides of the walls or fences. It is not only this man or his religion that this is happening to so that is why i posted the last comment. UTV have made this article look like he is bring singled out. True reporting would goto both sides.
Mark in England wrote (447 days ago):
Never mind the interface. The quality of life in N.I. is terrible. One of the worst in Europe. Not a place to bring up children. I feel sorry for them
con in US wrote (447 days ago):
Well said YorkRoad dyslexic. Thousands living on interface areas have had little peace for years.
S.B. in Belfast wrote (447 days ago):
UTV's coverage of these incidents on Belfast interfaces has been extremely one sided and very biased in my opinion. Nationalist homes on Rosapenna Street, North Queen Street and Short Strand are under constant barrages of bricks, bottles and paint bombs but all we hear is the Fountain, Suffolk and Lower Oldpark. Of course any attack on anyone is wrong but your portrayal of this is very unfair and you appear to be dancing to a DUP tune in your reports. Do Catholic people not have the same rights or deserve the same airtime as Protestants in the UTV newsroom?
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