Belfast Telegraph

Cantrell Close threats: Active PSNI investigation after Catholic families flee homes

UVF behind the intimidation which left families homeless, Sinn Fein claims

The PSNI say they can’t confirm who may have been behind sectarian threats which forced four Catholic families out of their homes in Belfast.

Loyalist paramilitaries have been blamed for intimidating the residents living in the mixed housing development in Cantrell Close off the Ravenhill Road.

On Thursday afternoon, PSNI Chief Superintendent Chris Noble said the paramilitary task force was involved in the investigation.

"There's an active investigation, we're working with the paramilitary task force to understand who is behind it," he said.

"We don't want to speculate about which organisation is behind this.

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Chief Superintendent Chris Noble speaking to the media outside Musgrave Police Station in Belfast, following suspected paramilitary threats against residents of Cantrell Close. Siobhan Fenton/PA Wire

He added: "Whoever it is has no regard whatsoever for what the people of east Belfast want in terms of a community working together and without division.

"My key appeal and what we need to progress this investigation is information.

"Whether it comes through the 101 hotline to detectives in Musgrave Street, or the Crimestoppers number 0800 555 111.

"The key bits of information which will allow us to break the case and bring people to justice, hopefully are already out there and are in the minds of people who are listening to me talking now."

Earlier the Housing Executive confirmed a number of families had presented themselves as homeless after being ordered to get out of their homes this week.

A Housing Executive spokesman said: "A number of families in the South Belfast area have presented to us as homeless claiming sectarian intimidation."

The Cantrell Close development was built as part of Stormont's 'Together Building United Communities' programme aimed at promoting shared housing.

Sinn Fein MLA Mairtin O Muilleoir said the east Belfast UVF was behind the intimidation.

"They didn't name the UVF, but it is the UVF and they have threatened these families’ lives," he said.

“Just yesterday the PSNI announced a new taskforce to deal with paramilitary activity, we need to see action on this and a criminal investigation needs to be opened to bring these people to book,” he added.

South Belfast MP Emma Little Pengelly and MLA Christopher Stalford also condemned the threats.

The DUP representatives said: “It is absolutely disgraceful that anyone should be threatened from their home. This area has traditionally been welcoming to all and those responsible do not represent the area. It must be condemned by everyone.

"Those behind this intimidation must be identified and face the courts. Anyone with information should contact the police and ensure those responsible face the full weight of the law.”

The development comes just after the PSNI announced a task force to crackdown on paramilitary activity.

In the summer the development was hit with another controversy when loyalist paramilitary flags were erected on lamp posts.

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