TALKS OVER SECTARIAN ATTACKS ON WEST BELFAST ESTATE

A silver Renault Clio which was attacked on the Suffolk estate on Friday night

A silver Renault Clio which was attacked on the Suffolk estate on Friday night

COMMUNITY leaders, politicians, police and residents are due for talks following a sectarian attack by rampaging nationalist youths in west Belfast.

The window of a house and four vehicles were targeted in Ringford Park in Suffolk on Friday.

It is understood nationalist youths were involved in the attack in a loyalist area.

The police are treating the attack as a hate crime. Political representatives claimed up to 100 youths were involved.

The police said they had earlier been called out to a house party in Brooke Drive. Some youths had moved into the street and there were scuffles.

The police said there were between 50 to 100 youths in the area but they said no offences were noted in regard to this incident.

Ruth Patterson of the DUP said there had been a history of attacks in the area.

Sinn Fein councillor Matt Garrett also condemned the attacks as sectarian.

SDLP MLA for west Belfast Alex Attwood described the attack in Suffolk as “appalling” and said those responsible “must face the full rigours of the law”.

Following the attacks on Protestant residents in the estate there was a chorus of condemnation from the DUP, Sinn Fein and the UDA.

West Belfast DUP Councillor Brian Kingston condemned the sectarian attack on Suffolk estate on Friday night.

He said that around 50 republican youths, male and female, came up Blacks Road on Friday around 10.30pm and carried out what he described as a “totally unprovoked attack.”

UDA south Belfast brigadier Jackie McDonald also condemned the attack as “blatant sectarianism”.

According to the PSNI, police received a report around 9.30 pm of a house party going out of control in the Brooke Drive area.

A number of youths moved from the party into the street and there were reports of scuffles between the party goers.

It was reported that there were between 50 to 100 youths in the area, however, a police spokesman said no offences were noted by officers at the time.

Police then received a report at 10 pm that a number of cars had been damaged in the Ringford Park area.

Four cars and the living room window of a house were damaged in the attack.

Police are investigating.

Said Councillor Brian Kingston: “They smashed windows in at least four cars and at least on house in Suffolk estate.

“It is reported that the youths had been attending a party in the Ladybrook area. Suffolk residents had to come out onto the streets to defend their homes.

“This was a blatant and totally unprovoked sectarian attack on a small Protestant community in West Belfast.

“I welcome that there has been condemnation from both sides of the community.

“What we need to see now is names being brought forward to the police which will secure convictions for this blatant sectarian hate crime. No-one should have to live in fear of attacks like this on their house or property.

“Community representatives from Lenadoon arrived on the scene and condemned the attack. By this stage over 100 republican youths had gathered on Blacks Road near the garage.”

DUP, Sinn Fein and UDA condemn sectarian attacks by nationalist youths on Suffolk residents

DUP, Sinn Fein and UDA condemn sectarian attacks by nationalist youths on Suffolk residents

The DUP said the “deliberate and disgraceful attack” had “greatly increased tensions in the area”

“This comes shortly after other sectarian attacks on the Suffolk estate: petrol bombs were thrown at a house in Kells Avenue last month, a Suffolk resident was badly beaten in a sectarian attack on Blacks Road a few weeks previous and the Suffolk bonfire was deliberately set on fire in a provocative act at the start of July.

“I appeal for calm and cool heads in the face of these outrageous attacks. I have spoken to the West Belfast Area Police Commander Mike White to highlight the need for increased patrols in the area to provide reassurance and to prevent any escalation.

“I will be arranging an early meeting with him, including the issue of dissatisfaction from residents over the time taken for the PSNI to respond to reports of this attack.

“The people of Suffolk estate have the same rights as anyone else to live free from sectarian harassment and I call for concerted efforts from both sides of the community to prove that attacks like this are totally unacceptable and will not be tolerated.”

Sinn Féin councillor Matt Garrett added: “A drunken mob emanating from the Brooke area last night went on the rampage in the Blacks Road area attacking homes and cars belonging to residents.

“This is disgraceful and was motivated by sectarianism.

“There are people working hard at the Blacks Road/Lenadoon/Suffolk interface to make sure that residents can get on with their lives free from this type of behaviour.

“It is not representative of the people that live in the area and I would say a lot of those involved are from outside the area.

“I was in contact with the local PSNI last night to get more resources into the area to deal with the incident.

“Today I will again be in touch with them to make sure there is no repeat of last night’s attack.

“Anyone with any information about last night’s attack should bring it immediately to the police.

“The wider west Belfast community want to live free from intimidation and sectarianism, they will continue to strive for that despite the actions of this drunken mob.”

Anyone with information about those behind the attacks is asked to contact the PSNI on 0845 600 8000.

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