Police up Ballysillan patrols and probe paramilitary link after sectarian attack leaves Catholic mother-of-four homeless
Police have stepped up patrols in an area of north Belfast after sectarian attacks on three homes in Ballysillan.
One attack left a 24-year-old Catholic mum of four homeless and fearing for her safety should she move into the property allocated for her.
Union flags have been placed around the area in a bid to intimidate those considering moving into the area. Windows were smashed and "KAT" (kill all taigs) scrawled on the wall of a house.
Police said paramilitary involvement was one possibility. Choice Housing, which manages the housing development, said safety was its top priority and was working with police and others on the matter.
It said it was unable to comment on specific cases, adding: "Choice allocates all properties in accordance with the rules of the Housing Selection Scheme."
SDLP representative Paul Doherty said it was a relief the young family was not at home at the time of the attack and called for the PSNI to provide some form of reassurance to the woman.
"She's now looking for a house again, she's distressed and she's frightened," he said.
He said the mother had been put off moving into the area.
"There are a lot of unanswered questions," he add.
"How did people know she was a Catholic moving into that area, that's a big question?
"In the mouth of Christmas, this was the light at the end of the tunnel for them."
DUP councillor Dale Pankhurst reported "a concern" to Choice Housing around the woman moving into the home.
He said: "This centered on the safety of the woman in question. I wished to raise this matter in confidence with the organisation.
"I have a duty of care to all residents when I receive any form of information that may indicate danger to life or property."
The DUP said it had spoken to police on the matter and urged anyone with information to report it to police.
"The DUP and Councillor Pankhurst condemn all forms of intimidation and attacks and therefore condemn this incident," said a party spokesman.
"People should be free to live wherever they wish."
Alliance North Belfast Councillor Nuala McAllister has described the attacks as “disgusting,” saying they were "not acceptable in north Belfast or anywhere else in Northern Ireland".
"People who carry out sectarian hate crimes of any kind succeed only in bringing shame on themselves, and they represent nobody with their abhorrent views," she said.
The SDLP said there had been an increase in interface incidents in recent weeks.
"This could have been prevented if leadership was shown in this community. We've now three families left distressed at this time of year," said Councillor Paul McCusker.
Chief Inspector Kelly Moore told the BBC investigations were at an early stage and paramilitary involvement was one line of inquiry.
"Any hate crime is unacceptable and we're working across communities to resolve that," she said.
Belfast Telegraph Digital