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Man arrested after mother and young son escape Shankill arson attack

By Rebecca Black

Published 08/04/2015

PSNI forensic officers attend the scene of the arson attack at Malvern Way in Belfast
PSNI forensic officers attend the scene of the arson attack at Malvern Way in Belfast

An eight-year-old boy who suffers from bad health, and his young mother, barely escaped being caught up in an arson attack on their home, it can be revealed.

It has been claimed that the attack is part of a reign of terror being waged by the UDA on the lower Shankill Road.

Tracey Coulter told the Belfast Telegraph that her family has been targeted for the last two years by the UDA.

Her father is Jackie Coulter, a senior UDA figure who was killed by the UVF during a feud between the two organisations in 2000.

Ms Coulter revealed that the UDA has even threatened to remove a mural in her father's memory.

She said the terror group is recruiting kids as young as 17 in the area, and says she has "never seen the place as bad".

"If this keeps going the way it is, I think someone is going to end up dying," she said.

Ms Coulter revealed that her sister's house was the home at the centre of the latest attack.

On Monday evening the house on Malvern Way, between the Shankill and Crumlin Roads, was set alight.

No-one was at home at the time of the incident.

It is understood intruders entered through the back door and set several items in the bedroom alight before fleeing. The level of damage of the house is still being assessed.

Ms Coulter revealed her sister along with her eight-year-old son had just left the house minutes before and arsonists broke in. She has blamed the UDA.

A spokeswoman for the PSNI said a man was arrested on Monday and is helping police with their inquiries.

Ms Coulter herself was assaulted by UDA member 'Mo' Courtney and said her family has been intimidated by the UDA for the last two years.

"My sister had only just left the house with her wee son when it was attacked," she said.

"He is terrified, he is getting counselling twice a week because of it. My sister is traumatised, they are having to stay with relatives at the minute.

"Then my other younger sister, who is just 22-years-old, was told that her house will be next.

"They have even threatened to remove the mural in my daddy's memory. But that's fine, we don't need a mural to remember my daddy, we have our own memories of him."

Ms Coulter was headbutted by Mo Courtney last July. He was convicted of the attack and ordered to pay Ms Coulter compensation of £500.

Shortly after this order Ms Coulter said her house was burnt by the UDA.

She has since moved out of the area, but was adamant that the move was for the sake of her four children.

"I won't back down to bullies," she said.

A PSNI spokeswoman said: "Detectives investigating a fire at a property in the Malvern Way area of North Belfast yesterday afternoon, Monday, April 6, have arrested a 29-year-man on suspicion of arson.

"He is currently assisting police with their enquiries."

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