Belfast Telegraph

Sad farewells as families face an uncertain future amid simmering tensions

By Lauren Harte

On Ballysillan Avenue yesterday, children's toys and buggies sat on the tarmac outside homes, ready to be bundled into the boots of cars as families left the area.

Bulkier items too - including a large flat screen TV, chest of drawers and mattress - were on the move.

Throughout the morning, friends and neighbours moved from house to house, providing assistance and on occasion a friendly hug for those who were finding it all a bit too much.

The sad goodbyes took place under the gaze of four police officers who offered support to the families as they brought out many black bags and suitcases.

Among them were two women and a young baby who had been living in emergency accommodation after being forced out two weeks ago, with only a few belongings grabbed in a hurry when they fled in the wake of an attack.

Yesterday they returned to the scene of the terrifying attack to gather up the rest of their furniture and clothing and prepared to leave their homes for the last time.

Hours earlier their neighbours on the same street had become the latest targets when a van was torched and windows smashed.

When the Belfast Telegraph visited the quiet street yesterday morning, the residents were too afraid to speak publicly. Instead they opted to carry on packing up the remainder of their belongings to transport them to a safer place as police looked on.

One woman, the mother of the seven-month-old baby whose home was targeted last month, said she was grateful to the members of her local church who had come to assist her with the move.

Evidence of what had occurred the night before could still be seen as the van with its charred bonnet remained at the scene, outside a two-storey house which had its front windows boarded up, as did the property directly opposite.

The front door of one of the homes had to be removed to allow a fridge to be taken out and placed in the back of a van.

Amid simmering tensions, for those forced to leave and those who stayed behind, the future remains uncertain.

Belfast Telegraph

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