26 August 2005



by VictoriaMcMahon

Loyalist racketeers are being blamed for a spate of attacks on two Chinese food outlets on the Saintfield Road.

The Silk take-away and The Elephant Room, owned by the same businessman, have had their windows broken and premises paint-bombed on several occasions over the past two months.

The latest attack on Silk takeaway occurred around 11.30pm on Saturday 13 August when the establishment was packed full of customers.

“It was lucky no one was seriously injured. The latest attack was done by adults not youths,” said a source close to the owner.

According to the source no one connected with the establishments believes the attacks are racially motivated as police at the scene informed staff.

“The police said they thought it was racist but if this had been racist, Silk would have been attacked years ago. It has been opened since 1991 and it is only in the last few months there has been any trouble. No one believes this is racist,” confirmed the source.

“Anytime the place has been attacked the people from the community have offered their support saying they are so sorry to see the premises having to be redecorated again.”

Well-placed sources have confirmed to the South Belfast News that loyalist paramilitaries are responsible for the attacks that have cost the two businesses thousands in repairs.

“It’s simple maths: the owners are refusing to pay protection money and as a result they find that their businesses are being attacked. If they agree to pay the money being demanded by loyalist paramilitaries, the attacks will stop overnight.”

A spokeswoman for the PSNI said the force was still trying to establish a motive for the latest incident.

“We are pursuing all lines of inquiry,” said the spokesperson.

Deputy Mayor of Castlereagh Geraldine Rice said it was disgraceful that hard working members of the community were being targeted. “I totally condemn this attack against people who are hard working and contribute to our society. It seems that loyalist racketeering is a reasonable explanation when you consider the number of other premises and Chinese takeaways around there and they have not been attacked. This is certainly something I will be raising at the next DPP meeting,” she said.

Journalist:: Victoria McMahon

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