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Alliance councillor's home attacked

Boarded up window at Linda Cleland's Newtownards home.

An Alliance councillor whose home was attacked overnight has said she will not be intimidated by violence.

Saturday, 08 December 2012
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Several windows at Linda Cleland's house in the Fairfield Court area of Newtownards were broken at around 1.20am on Saturday.

All of the windows of a car parked outside the property were also smashed, in what the Ards councillor described as "an attack on democracy".

"I will not be intimidated by this violence," she said. "This is an attack on democracy that must be condemned by all."

She told UTV how she woke up to loud bangs, and heard someone climbing on her roof.

Then I had to stand there listening to them destroy my house, waiting for someone to come to my rescue.

Linda Cleland

"I heard another explosion and I looked to the window and saw a stranger out in my garden," she said.

"When you're in the room and it's pitch black and you're trying to find your phone, and you're quaking - and I mean quaking - because these explosions were going on all around me...

Cllr Cleland has lived in the same house for 24 years and said she cannot understand why her house was attacked.

"I work hard for this community. I help anybody who comes to me for help. I've never turned anybody away. For them to do this to me I find horrifying and unacceptable.

"You don't come in the dead of night when people are sleeping. If they've a problem, come to me. Speak to me, let us sit down and work out what the problem is. Don't be a coward," she said.

Two males with scarves covering their faces were seen running from the scene.

Cllr Cleland is the latest member of the Alliance Party to be targeted this week. The party's sole MP, Naomi Long, said she received a death threat, and a peaceful protest was held outside Lisburn office of Alliance MLA Trevor Lunn on Friday afternoon.

It's a cowardly act when you do it when people are sleeping and they are not there to defend themselves.

Linda Cleland

On Wednesday, Assembly member Stewart Dickson's constituency office in Carrickfergus was burnt out, while vandals threw a paint bomb at the Bangor home of councillors Michael and Christine Bower.

On the same night, the office of Dr Stephen Farry was attacked.

Police have appealed for anyone with information about the attack to contact them.

Tensions were heightened after a vote at Belfast City Hall ruled the Union flag should only be flown on designated days.

Nationalist parties wanted the flag removed altogether, and unionist parties said the flag should continue to be flown every day. The Alliance Party held the balance of power and opted for a compromise which will see it flown from city hall on 17 days throughout the year.