16 February 2006

Sectarian thugs go on rampage in the Shankill

Belfast Telegraph

OAPs fearful after homes attacked

By Claire Regan
16 February 2006

Pensioners living in a tight-knit Protestant community last night spoke of their fear after a group of thugs went on the rampage, shouting sectarian abuse and attacking homes.

Windows in four homes belonging to elderly and disabled residents in Boyd Street, in the Lower Shankill area of Belfast, were smashed when a group of young men and one woman attacked them with traffic cones at around 2.30am yesterday. correct

At least one car was damaged and several front doors had visible boot marks where the youths had tried to kick them in.

Police have confirmed they are treating the incident as sectarian after the hooligans were heard shouting "Orange b******s" and "Up the 'Ra" as they made their way along the street.

William Hood (60), who suffers ill health, has lived in the street for 38 years.

He had to get his living room window replaced yesterday after a traffic cone was hurled through it, smashing a lamp, destroying a set of blinds and damaging a table.

He said residents have to deal with abuse from people walking through the street at night on a regular basis.

He said: "We are absolutely sick of this happening. This is a very quiet area and we just want to live here in peace.

"But this is happening nearly every day now. We've had enough. There must be something the police can do."

Neighbour Edward Carson and his wife Elizabeth, both aged 59, were woken by "shouting and barging" outside.

"They threw a cone at the front window but luckily the window didn't smash. When I went out the next morning, I noticed a large dent on my car where the door had been kicked at," Mr Carson said.

"They then smashed in the front window of the woman's home next door. It's pathetic."

DUP MLA Diane Dodds visited residents whose homes were attacked.

She said it was believed the group were coming from the city centre and used the street as a short cut on their way to the Carrick Hill or New Lodge areas.

"This is a very vulnerable community because of its proximity to the city centre and this has been happening on a fairly regular basis. These residents, many of whom have lived here for a very long time, shouldn't have to put up with this."

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