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Terror gang threats force 100-plus Northern Ireland families to quit their homes

More than 100 families have been forced to flee their homes in Northern Ireland during the past 18 months because their lives were in danger.

Most of the cases were the result of paramilitary threats and intimidation.

They sought emergency assistance under the special purchase of evacuated dwellings (SPED) scheme.

The scheme is operated by the Northern Ireland Housing Executive and allows for the purchase of a property where the owner has been intimidated or threatened.

It means those at risk of violence can move out immediately without first having to put their home on the market.

According to the Housing Executive, 67 applications to the SPED scheme were received during the 12 months to April this year. A further 47 applications were made in the nine months since. The Housing Executive was unable to say how many of the applications had been successful.

The figures emerged after dissident republicans attempted to murder a PSNI officer by placing a bomb under his car in east Belfast,

It is likely the family will now have to leave their home and the officer will be entitled to make an application under the SPED scheme.

It is understood 64 PSNI officers have been rehoused in the last five years. Others in the SPED figures include prison officers and soldiers. According to the Housing Executive, a property can be purchased under SPED where police believe a family member is in “acute physical danger”.

Belfast Telegraph