25 March 2005

Daily Ireland

Interface trouble brews

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Community leaders at a notorious Belfast interface have called for calm after a series of attacks on nationalist homes.

On Tuesday, loyalists from the White City estate in the north of the city threw paint at four homes in the neighbouring nationalist area of Longlands.
Other nationalist homes on the Serpentine Road, which is separated from the White City by a six-metre-high fence, were attacked by loyalist stone-throwers.
The latest sectarian attacks came less than 24 hours after 12-year-old Catholic teenager Megan Brown was assaulted by loyalists on the Whitewell Road.
Prior to this attack, Protestant homes in the area also had paint thrown at them.
Lynne Noble’s ten-year-old son Terence McDonald was one of those injured in Tuesday night’s disturbances.
The schoolboy was hit on the face by a brick thrown by loyalists as he played with friends in the back garden of his home on the Serpentine Road.
Ms Noble said her family would now be moving out of the area.
“I can’t take any more,” she said. “I have three children, all aged under ten, and I feel that their lives are in danger.
“They don’t want to live here any longer, and who can blame them? Living in this part of north Belfast is like living in a war zone at times.”
North Belfast Sinn Féin councillor David Kennedy said Tuesday’s attacks were unjustifiable and purely sectarian.
“Local nationalist residents were very concerned following the sectarian attacks last weekend.
“However, their fears have not been alleviated by subsequent events in the area.
“These are worrying developments and I am urging nationalists to be extremely vigilant in the coming days.
Loyalism is doing what it does best in a political vacuum - attacking vulnerable targets in the knowledge that very little pressure will be brought to bear on them,” said Mr Kennedy.
Whitewell community worker Paul McKernon said that, despite calls for calm, there was potential for fresh trouble in the area at the weekend.
He said: “There will be a republican band parade in the Whitewell area on Easter Sunday.
“Although it will stay entirely within the nationalist community, loyalists have indicated they will protest by blocking sections of the Whitewell Road on Saturday evening.
“I’m calling for cool heads and urging loyalist community representatives to ensure there is not a repeat of the missile-throwing incidents and attacks we have seen over the last few days.”
Mr McKernon said the catalyst for the latest violence was a loyalist band parade held at the end of February by the Ulster Defence Association in support of the Whitewell Defenders.
“The PSNI escorted loyalists past nationalist homes and that caused anger within the community. Since then, things have gone from bad to worse.
“There is an awful lot of tension in Whitewell at the moment. The area is ready to explode.
“I am calling on everyone to take a step back,” said Mr McKernon.
Ulster Political Research Group spokesman Sammy Duddy, who gives political advice to the UDA, echoed this call for calm.
“Violence is pointless. Nationalists and unionists should be working together to ensure people can live in peace.
“Both communities are suffering in Whitewell for no reason,” he said.

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