Belfast Telegraph

'They have Catholic sounding names' - Northern Ireland couple terrified after threatening graffiti daubed outside home

Police are investigating (stock photo)
Police are investigating (stock photo)
Mark Edwards

By Mark Edwards

A Co Antrim couple have been left terrified for their safety after graffiti was daubed outside their home telling them they have "24 hours to get out".

The threatening message appeared outside the couple's home on Tuesday evening.

The names of the couple and the area they live have not been revealed, as they fear for their safety.

The mother of the woman who lives at the rented property, speaking to the Nolan Show, said the couple may have been targeted because they have "Catholic sounding names".

The mother said: "My daughter and her partner left their home to go and get some coffee. They were away from home, it was a very short amount of time and came back to find the front of their home had been spray painted with their names telling them that they had 24 hours to get out of the property.

"They called the police, 999, because they were so terrified, they did not know what had happened, they did not know where it had come from and the police actually took one hour to respond to a 999."

The worried mum said the couple live in a "very Protestant area" but they have names that could be perceived as Catholic.

"They are not Catholic," she said.

They have been left very vulnerable. The police came out and said there was really nothing they could do. Worried mum

"They advised them to go outside and scrub the paint off themselves, saying there was no one else that could do that for them. They didn't offer them any extra protection whatsoever."

"This is night time, they have had a threat, they don't know where it has come from and they are telling them to stand outside and scrub out paint, totally unprotected."

The mum said the couple arrived home at around 10.15pm on Tuesday and that police officers arrived at the property at around 11.15pm.

She said the couple were given a booklet with information on self protection and asked if they had anywhere else to go for the night.

"It seems to me that we are in a lawless society, you can do whatever you like," she said.

"They are trying to get on with their lives, but it seems they can't do so and that there is no one to protect them. I would see this as a hate crime. I think it deserves more recognition than it is getting."

The couple have been too scared to remove the graffiti from outside their home.

A PSNI spokesperson said police in Newtownabbey received a report that graffiti indicating two named individuals should leave the area had been sprayed on the pavement outside a group of flats on Tuesday.

The report was received at 10.37pm and officers attended the scene at 11.18pm.

Superintendent Sue Steen, Antrim and Newtownabbey District Commander, said: “The couple were spoken to by officers in their home and provided advice and guidance with regard to their personal safety. A trawl for local CCTV has been carried out, along with a search of the area.

"At this time no motive has been established.  Local officers were tasked to provide increased passing attention to the area, and the local Neighbourhood Policing Team has been made aware.

“Police are continuing with their enquiries to determine a motive and would appeal to anyone with any information to contact them on 101.

“Whilst the removal of graffiti is not a matter for Police, we will continue to work with Partner Agencies to ensure it is removed as quickly as possible.”

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