Owner's disgust after Carrickfergus scaffolding firm forced out of Ardoyne
The owner of a Carrickfergus scaffolding firm has spoken of his disgust after he was told to remove his men from a job in the Ardoyne area of Belfast on Tuesday morning.
DB Scaffolding owner David Brown said his company had been engaged by a contractor for work on the 'Pairc An Ghleanna' bar on Ardoyne Avenue.
Mr Brown said he received a call at around 10am on Tuesday, September 17, from the contractor informing him that his three members of staff had to leave the area for their own safety.
He was told that his men's lives were not at risk but that they needed to "get out of Dodge" as quickly as possible.
DUP North Belfast MLA William Humphrey said that he had reported the matter to the North Belfast Police Commander's Office.
He described the incident as "appalling" and said that police will be investigating.
After being contacted by the Belfast Telegraph the PSNI said that they "do not discuss the security of individuals and no inference should be drawn from this".
"However, if we receive information that a person’s life may be at risk we will inform them accordingly. We never ignore anything which may put an individual at risk," a spokesperson said.
This is appalling. Over lunchtime I was in touch with the North Belfast Police Commander’s Office. She advises that the Police will be investigating the allegation.— William Humphrey (@WmHumphreyDUP) September 17, 2019
Anyone with information which may assist the PSNI should contact Tennent Street Police Station. pic.twitter.com/HMqDGgRkLS
Mr Brown said he was "disgusted" by the incident and believes that his men were asked to leave the area because he is a Protestant from Carrickfergus.
"I'm married to a Catholic and have many Catholic friends, over the past few years we have worked in Ligoniel, New Lodge, Twinbrook and got on the best with people," he said.
"The contractor rang me this morning and said we had to 'get out quick', my men were so afraid they were going to take off and leave the building materials, but were able to take them down and get out of there."
Mr Brown said that he had sought assurances there would be no issue with his men working in the area and had been told those days "were in the past".
He said that he been uneasy about returning to the area after last working there on the day Bobby Moffett was murdered on the Shankill Road by the UVF in 2010.
Mr Brown, who has many years experience in the building trade, said that he had spoken to other contractors who had been forced out of the area in the past.
"I really thought these days were behind us. We should be able to work anywhere," he said.
Mr Humphrey said that the "sectarian threat" against the scaffolding firm must be condemned.
"It is important that that condemnation is clear and unequivocal from across the political spectrum," the North Belfast MLA said.
"It was clearly an act of intimidation threatening the safety of his men and he was in no doubt that it was sectarian. He has worked in scaffolding in Northern Ireland for 20 years and this is the first time that he has had men intimidated off a job.
“I have forwarded his Facebook post to the PSNI who have confirmed that they are investigating this incident. Anyone with information which could assist this investigation is asked to contact Inspector Graham through the PSNI switchboard on 02890 650222.”
East Antrim UUP MLA John Stewart described the incident as "absolutely terrible and something I thought was consigned to the past".
"An excellent firm threatened from an area because of where they are from. Standing in support of all the team at DB Scaffolding," he said.
Belfast Telegraph Digital