Falls residents targeted after speaking out

Published Wednesday, 14 November 2012
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Vandals have attacked the homes of a man and woman who spoke out about anti-social behaviour in west Belfast.

Falls residents targeted after speaking out
Robert McClenaghan beside the window which was broken in his lower Falls home. (© Pacemaker)

As police revealed a new initiative aimed at tackling crime in the lower Falls area of the city, one woman told UTV how the windows of her home have been smashed, and gates broken down during hundreds of incidents.

Her son was badly burned when the family's motorbike was set on fire, and she said a squib was put through her daughter's bedroom window as she lay in bed.

"It burnt right through to her quilt. Windows been egged, windows been smashed, walls at the front knocked down, everything. It's atrocious," she told UTV.

Robert McClenaghan, vice chair of the Falls Residents Association had urged residents to report attacks to police.

But on Wednesday, he revealed both of their homes had been attacked. Mr McClenaghan was targeted just minutes after the UTV Live Tonight report finished on Monday.

"No sooner had [Jim McVeigh] finished speaking than my phone rang. I stood up out of my chair to answer the phone and there was a massive bang.

"A breeze block came crashing through my window and sprayed the glass all over the seat where I had been sitting.

"It was a tremendous shock. Luckily I was at home alone," Mr McClenaghan added.

"It could have been much worse... These are the type of people that we are trying to target."

I'm still very, very angry at what happened on Monday night, and I'm also very sad to hear that one of the residents who was courageous enough to give an interview on camera has now been attacked as well.

Robert McClenaghan

The next day, vandals targeted the home of the woman who spoke in the same report.

"The other lady who was with me has also had her home attacked last night with a breeze block.This poor woman has been traumatised beyond belief as well."

A PSNI spokesperson said a number of incidents were reported within the first 24 hours of their operation in the lower Falls area.

West Belfast Area Commander Chief Inspector Emma Bond said: "We have listened to the concerns of the community and we are now taking steps to tackle the issues raised and I believe this is a positive start.

"We also need local residents to help us by reporting anti-social behaviour and criminal activity to us so that it can be dealt with accordingly," she added.

Mr McClenaghan has received a lot of well wishes since this week's attacks which he said will not deter him from reporting such incidents to police.

"I feel very comforted that we will face these people down, that they will not succeed. That the people of the Falls are better than that. They're more resilient and we will have a better future for the people."

© UTV News
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