12 August 2005

Family angry at SPED rejection


A mixed marriage couple and their three children who narrowly escaped death in a loyalist arsonist attack have been left reeling after Chief Constable Hugh Orde decided their lives were not in jeopardy.
The McCall family have lived in Old Throne Park, just off the Whitewell Road for the past seven years and in that time they have been attacked numerous times.
The most recent attack saw the McCalls and their neighbours targeted by loyalists after they set fire to oil tanks.
The Fire Brigade said if they had arrived any later, they would be dealing with ‘multiple fatalities’.
The PSNI said at the time of the attack in June and again this week when asked by the North Belfast News, that a sectarian motive was just one line of enquiry.
Incredibly, after the McCalls applied for their home to be sold under the Special Purchase of Evacuated Dwelling (SPED) scheme, which means anyone under paramilitary threat can be paid the market value for their home without having to put it up for sale, they were knocked back.
SPED decisions are made by PSNI chief constable Hugh Orde who declares if a person or family is at risk. This decision is forwarded onto the Housing Executive who then pay out to allow a relocation.
The family’s situation is getting worse by the day, as both Mandy and her husband Peter have been unable to work since the fire and their empty home is being constantly vandalised.
Their children have received counselling about the attacks following advice from their GP and their nine-year-old daughter is losing her hair because of the stress.
“We’re living in a temporary place for the meantime while the work gets done. But how can we go back? The place looks like a bomb site,” Mandy McCall said.
“Somebody’s got in and turned the water taps on and flooded the place. Steel framework has been chucked at the windows and graffiti has been sprayed on the skip. It’s not our home any more.”
Mandy’s husband Peter said they, and their three young children would never return.
“No matter what happens, we will not be going back.”
The HE said they can only purchase property under the SPED scheme if the Chief Constable issues a certificate confirming that it is unsafe for the applicant or a member of their household to remain in the property.
“In the case of the McCall family no certificate was issued and therefore their application had to be turned down,” a spokesperson said.
Sinn Féin councillor Tierna Cunningham said it was outrageous the family was being persecuted further.
“It beggars belief that once again the victims are being punished,” the councillor said.
“This was attempted murder, which could have resulted in multiple deaths. The perception that sectarian attacks are not happening almost on a weekly basis to Catholics must be challenged.
“Our thoughts are with the McCalls and the McManus family at this time. They have already been through attempted murder and so much upheaval.
“There is no normality for them as they can’t go back to jobs, they need to move one and find a new home and their children will have to change school. These families don’t deserve this.”

Journalist:: Staff Reporter

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