Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 26 October 2014

Dunanney Centre in Rathcoole estate forced to close after fourth sectarian attack

Dunanney Centre manager Vicky Moore with a notice yesterday announcing the closure of the centre after the latest attack

A cross-community facility in the mainly loyalist Rathcoole estate was forced to close its doors following a fourth attack on the building in recent months.

More than 20 people work at the Dunanney Centre which also provides services for people from across the community.

But yesterday staff had an emergency meeting and it was decided to close for the day after slogans including what was believed to be a gun target and the phrases 'Taigs Out' and KAT (Kill All Taigs) were sprayed on the building.

It was the fourth attack on the building which sits in an open area of Rathcoole in the shadows of the estate's four tower blocks.

Yesterday, members of the community were rallying round and a church group, Spark, pledged to paint out the graffiti.

The scorch marks from a July 12 petrol bombing were still visible on the building and there is still no heating following a previous attack on the boiler house.

Dunanney Centre chairperson Pat Hutchinson said the attacks are very worrying for staff. "People are frightened. We are distraught after this latest incident," she said. "We have a mixed workforce in the building, up to 25 people, and that is the way it has always been here.

"We always had people from both sides of the community and we provide services for everybody. We are appealing for the community to support us. We closed the centre because we needed to gather ourselves and reflect but the time for platitudes has gone we need positive action to ensure these attacks stop."

Centre manager Vicky Moore added: "We are closing to reflect on what is going on but we are not going to give up."

Rathcoole Church of Ireland minister, Rev Mark Niblock, who is on the Dunanney Centre board, said: "This is an attack on the community as well as the centre."

Factfile

  • Around 200 people pass through the doors of the Dunanney Centre each day.
  • The Newtownabbey Citizens Advice Bureau, based at the centre, handles over 30,000 inquiries each year.
  • In the 2013/14 financial year the centre had 33,509 inquiries, 16,399 clients and helped to reclaim benefits of £5.4m for clients.
  • It has helped local families manage £12.5m of debt.

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