Belfast Telegraph

UVF driving Catholic families out of Belfast homes, claims MLA

One of the UVF flags erected near a mixed housing estate in south Belfast
One of the UVF flags erected near a mixed housing estate in south Belfast
One of the UVF flags
Mairtin O Muilleoir
Jonathan Bell

By Jonathan Bell

The UVF is driving people out of their homes in Belfast, an MLA has claimed.

The Housing Executive has confirmed a number of families living in a shard housing scheme in south Belfast presented to the organisation as homeless because of sectarian intimidation.

The development was built as part of Stormont's 'Together Building United Communities' programme aimed at promoting shared housing.

Paramilitary flags in the past have been put up in the area of the neighbourhood, which caused outrage.

Alliance MLA Paula Bradshaw said "paramilitary thugs were attempting to stamp their authority on the area".

She told the BBC Stephen Nolan show four families were affected.

"It's a disgrace," she said

Sinn Fein MLA Mairtin O Muilleoir said police visited the families' homes to inform them of the threat.

"They didn't name the UVF, but it is the UVF and they have threatened these families lives," he said.

The former Stormont minister said there was not enough opposition to the erection of flags in the area before the summer from within unionism, the police and Housing Executive.

"Not enough people spoke out then, everyone went about blind and now we have this."

Those behind this intimidation must be identified and face the courts. DUP

"People in the area, Catholics in the area were very afraid before the summer that the UVF was able to go about its activity," continued Mr O Muilleoir.

"There is nothing more iniquitous than someone coming to your home telling you there is a threat against you.

"It is the complete other side of Belfast."

South Belfast MP Emma Little Pengelly and MLA Christopher Stalford condemned the threats.

They said: “It is absolutely disgraceful that anyone should be threatened from their home. This area has traditionally been welcoming to all and those responsible do not represent the area. It must be condemned by everyone.

"Those behind this intimidation must be identified and face the courts. Anyone with information should contact the police and ensure those responsible face the full weight of the law.”

Radius Housing said it had been informed of the investigation into the threats and intimidation.

The development comes just after the PSNI announced a task force to crackdown on paramilitary activity.

"Our priority is the safety and wellbeing of all of our tenants and we are engaged with the PSNI, NIHE as well as our tenants, community and political representatives as we address this ongoing issue," a statement said.

"It is our goal that the residents of Cantrell Close, and all of our developments, live free from any type of intimidation or threat to their safety. We believe that aim is shared by the vast majority of people who live here."

On the South Belfast threats, a spokesman said: "We do not discuss the security of individuals. 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. No inference should be drawn from this."

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