West Belfast attack 'sectarian'

West Belfast attack 'sectarian'

DUP and Sinn Féin representatives have described an attack on cars and a home in a west Belfast Protestant estate as "sectarian".

Four cars and the living room window of a home were damaged in the Ringford Park area after a crowd of around 100 youths went on the rampage on Friday night.

Police received a report of a house party going out of control in the Brooke Drive area at around 9.30pm.

A number of youths moved from the party into the street and there were reports of scuffles between the party-goers.

It was reported that there were between 50 to 100 youths in the area, however, a police spokesman said no offences were noted by officers at the time.

Police then received a report at 10pm that cars and the window of a home had been damaged in the Ringford Park area.

A PSNI spokesman said police are treating the incident as a hate crime.

Ruth Parkinson, whose car was damaged in the incident, said: "We were sitting playing with the grandchildren and a neighbour knocked our window to tell us to phone the police.

"We went out and seen the crowds of young girls and fellas running all around the place and the next thing was the cars' windows were put in with hurley bats and bricks were flying from all directions.

"Then they all ran back down the Blacks Road.

"Apparently they were all at a party down the road and they decided to come up, but who goes to a party with hurley bats?

"They had intended to come in to destroy cars or hurt someone in our community."

Resident Sean Conlon told UTV the experience was "frightening".

He added: "It was extremely worrying. It's not the first time it's happened there has been spates of this kind of thing happening on and off over the last year or so.

"It was nerve-wracking, especially seeing such a large crowd, I think that was the worst thing.

"Any other time it's happened it's been usually two or three random people walking up the road but the fact there was so many of them made it worse.

"People were frightened and worried and there was a lot of anger about.

"This kind of thing has been happening for years and no one seems to be in any position of power to do anything about it."

West Belfast DUP Councillor Brian Kingston condemned the attack as "sectarian".

No one should have to live in fear of attacks like this on their house or property.

Councillor Brian Kingston

He said: "This was a blatant and totally unprovoked sectarian attack on a small Protestant community in west Belfast.

"I welcome that there has been condemnation from both sides of the community.

"What we need to see now is names being brought forward to the police which will secure convictions for this blatant sectarian hate crime.

He continued: "Around 50 republican youths, both male and female, came up Blacks Road last night at around 10.30pm and carried out this totally unprovoked attack.

"They smashed windows of at least four cars and at least one house in the Suffolk estate.

"It is reported that the youths had been attending a party in the Ladybrook area.

"Suffolk residents had to come out onto the streets to defend their homes.

"Community representatives from Lenadoon arrived on the scene and condemned the attack.

"By this stage over 100 republican youths had gathered on Blacks Road near the garage."

Councillor Kingston called for calm and for increased police patrols in the area following a spate of similar incidents in the area.

He added: "I appeal for calm and cool heads in the face of these outrageous attacks.

"I have spoken to police commander Mike White to highlight the need for increased patrols in the area to provide reassurance and to prevent any escalation.

"I will be arranging an early meeting with him, including the issue of dissatisfaction from residents over the time taken for the PSNI to respond to reports of this attack.

"The people of Suffolk estate have the same rights as anyone else to live free from sectarian harassment and I call for concerted efforts from both sides of the community to prove that attacks like this are totally unacceptable and will not be tolerated."

Sinn Féin Councillor Matt Garrett added: "A drunken mob emanating from the Brooke area last night went on the rampage in the Blacks Road area attacking homes and cars belonging to residents.

"This is disgraceful and was motivated by sectarianism.

"There are people working hard at the Blacks Road/Lenadoon/Suffolk interface to make sure that residents can get on with their lives free from this type of behaviour.

"It is not representative of the people that live in the area and I would say a lot of those involved are from outside the area.

"I was in contact with the local PSNI last night to get more resources into the area to deal with the incident.

"Today I will again be in touch with them to make sure there is no repeat of this attack.

"Anyone with any information about this attack should bring it immediately to the police.

"The wider west Belfast community want to live free from intimidation and sectarianism, they will continue to strive for that despite the actions of this drunken mob."


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