Belfast Telegraph

Dissident thugs give cancer victim one day to get out

By Lesley-Anne McKeown

A 45-year-old cancer victim is among 22 people who have been ordered to leave the country by dissident republicans, the Belfast Telegraph can reveal.

The west Belfast mother-of-four, who is too scared to be identified, was forced to send her teenage son into exile on Thursday, but is now living in fear for her own life after the terror gang extended their threat.

“They said I have 24 hours to get out,” she told the Belfast Telegraph. “Time is ticking on and I have nowhere to go.

“I am getting treatment in the City Hospital so I need to be here, but I am terrified of them coming after me.”

This is the largest set of expulsions by self-styled vigilantes in Belfast in recent months.

Those targeted have been accused of anti-social behaviour, housebreaking and drug dealing.

It comes after the splinter group Republican Action Against Drugs threatened to shoot nine people accused of anti-community activity in Londonderry last week.

“They put the windows in at 9.10pm on Monday using iron bars,” added the victim, choking back tears.

“They never gave any reason for that. I was just sitting in the living room with my sister and two kids — my daughter who is 15 and my son who is 18.

“Then (on Tuesday) night they came back at about 8pm or 8.30pm. There were 10 or more men all covered up and they said ‘ONH Irish Republican Army’ and they told me my family had 24 hours to get out.

“I cannot sleep and am living on the edge of my nerves. I’m worried about my daughter and what might happen to her.”

ONH issued the threats on Tuesday, visiting the homes of the threatened individuals.

In one case a man in his early 20s was beaten about the face.

In another case 10 windows in a terraced house were smashed.

The woman has lived in her terraced home in the Upper Springfield area for about 10 years.

She admits her 18-year-old son is “no angel” but cannot understand why she and her daughter are also under threat.

She said she cannot leave because of her medical treatment.

”My heart is just broken. I am worried, I mean really worried.”

The woman was diagnosed with cancer five months ago.

Since then she has undergone five operations, had 32 radiotherapy treatment sessions and six chemotherapy sessions; however, the cancer has spread to her lymph nodes.

At least six of those threatened are believed to be from the Turf Lodge or Upper Springfield area.

It is understood that a number of self-appointed vigilante groups are currently operating under flags of convenience such as ONH and Continuity IRA in west Belfast. They have been flexing their muscles in recent weeks with an increasing number of punishment attacks.

Jim McCarthy from Community Restorative Justice said people were scared to speak out.

“People are living in fear and they are scared to speak out in case their own children become a target,” he said.

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