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Christmas lights glow ... but Belfast deaths scene was far from festive

Officers conducting searches close to the Oldpark Road
Officers conducting searches close to the Oldpark Road

By Mark McConville

With Christmas just around the corner, lights and decorations could be seen twinkling from every house on the street - but this scene was far from festive.

Kinnaird Close in north Belfast was cordoned off after two bodies were found on Monday, while an endless horde of police officers continued to arrive.

The sound of a helicopter could be heard and it soon came into view, hovering high above and using a searchlight to scan the streets. With unconfirmed reports that the people found had been stabbed, horrified residents of Brucevale Court, which overlooks Kinnaird Close, watched the hive of activity from the safety of their own homes.

One woman said it was usually a quiet area where everyone knew their neighbours and residents were mainly pensioners.

"This wee complex is very, very quiet and everyone will tell you that," she said.

"It was very quiet here this morning. You would have thought it was a Sunday. I actually thought everybody was away on holiday.

"I know every one of my neighbours here and the people over there are the same.

"There's a few long-standing members at the flats who are still there but there's a lot of young ones who have moved in.

"I am really shocked. I saw a few police cars there and thought they were just checking out registrations.

"I didn't think it was anything as untoward and complex as what it is. All I can say is my sincere sympathies go out to the families as they are somebody's sons or daughters and at this time of year as well."

Other neighbours agreed that they "hear nothing" in the area but one said Kinnaird Close "looked like a crime scene" every other week with the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service often in attendance.

She said: "It's not a surprise that something has happened there but it's definitely a shock there's been deaths. It's mad.

"It seems to be all older or elderly men in those flats. It's just the Fire Brigade you would hear every other night."

The woman, who has been living in the street for more than 30 years, said her 12-year-old granddaughter would often run between her house in Brucevale Court and her grandfather's in Kinnaird Close.

However, luckily the girl was not at either of her grandparents' houses yesterday. "It's all pensioners and it's always been dead quiet," she said.

She added: "There's never anybody about."

SDLP councillor Paul McCusker said there was "shock, anger and sadness" in the community.

He added: "This area is built up. There are lots of families and lots of people who are very well settled.

"It's just horrific news at this time of year, a couple of days before Christmas."

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