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Outrage after sectarian thugs target Ballycastle family for arson attack

By Lesley Houston

Published 22/10/2015

A crime scene investigator at the scene of the sectarian attack
A crime scene investigator at the scene of the sectarian attack

There has been widespread condemnation of an arson attack on a young family's home on the north coast, with police describing it as a hate crime.

A car was destroyed and sectarian graffiti was daubed on the wall of a rural house in Ballycastle in the attack early on Tuesday morning.

A couple in their 20s and their baby were in the Islandarragh Road property at the time but were not hurt when arsonists set their car alight just before 2.30am.

The flames spread to the house causing significant damage to the front door, windows and guttering. 'Taigs Out' was daubed in large lettering on the gable wall.

Investigations are at an early stage, but police said they were treating it as a hate crime.

It is the latest in a number of similar incidents in the area within a month.

Local community representatives said Tuesday's incident happened in a rural location known for good community relations.

Ulster Unionist councillor Joan Baird said she was "absolutely shocked" by the incident.

"I've never known of any kind of trouble in this area and I would totally condemn it," she said.

"It's an outrage that there would be this kind of attack on people in their own home .

It's disgraceful, especially when we have a well-established peace process in Northern Ireland."

Sinn Fein councillor Cara McShane echoed those sentiments.

"I utterly condemn this act. There are some elements within our community who are intent on causing devastation for families and escalating tensions in society," she said.

"This is a rural community which is not accustomed to this type of behaviour and which has great relations.

"This part of north Antrim is a very good community which is well-known for its positive attributes, like its tourism and sport, and this type of negativity is just not welcome here."

She urged people with information to contact police immediately.

Local SDLP representative Donal Cunningham said: "There's no place for this in our community".

Police have urged anyone with information to contact police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

On September 28 four homes in Glentaise Drive, Ballycastle, were damaged in an arson attack.

None of the residents was injured and they were able to escape their properties.

A year ago the Ballycastle home of independent councillor Padraig McShane was badly damaged in an arson.

In that attack police said they believed flammable liquid had been poured through the letterbox of the house in the Whitehill Avenue in the early morning of October 4 when the house was empty.

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