Local political representatives have condemned a sinister sectarian attack at the site of a new social housing development near Bawnmore.
Graffiti threatening Protestants and a named employee of Clanmil Housing was painted on the wall of the 97-property scheme at the former Felden Training Centre site on Mill Road at the weekend. It has since been painted over.
The graffiti attack came just days after several Irish tricolours were erected outside the development, and a matter of weeks after another sectarian graffiti attack.
Condemning the incident, North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds commented: “This latest act of sectarian intimidation aimed at discouraging Protestants from moving into the new Felden development is utterly disgraceful and will be condemned by all right thinking people. It’s clear that republicans are engaged in an orchestrated campaign of hate and intimidation in a bid to stop this development becoming a shared neighbourhood.”
Macedon Councillor Thomas Hogg said: “The painting of this sectarian and threatening graffiti is the latest in a series of intimidating acts close to the Felden shared housing development. There is clearly a concerted campaign aimed at deterring any unionists or Protestants from applying for these new social homes which will be allocated shortly. Social housing ought to be allocated on the basis of demonstrable need alone, and it is despicable that bully-boy tactics are being employed to dissuade those in need from availing of these homes. The new development is of a magnitude that far exceeds the social-housing need in the immediate areas, so for the development to be justifiable it must meet the need of the wider Newtownabbey area.”
The DUP man added: “I have conveyed my support to the member of staff whose name was included in this graffiti. I have had dealings with this officer for several years and it is absolutely despicable that they should be targeted in this way.
“I would call on anyone who may have information on who is behind this campaign of intimidation to contact the PSNI.”
Sinn Fein Councillor Michael Goodman commented: “This offensive and sectarian graffiti is utterly unacceptable in any society and must be removed at once.
“Local people are very excited at this new housing development at the former Felden site and those that have defaced the development with graffiti in no way represent this community.
“Unfortunately incidents such as this only serve to further division and feed sectarianism at a time when the community wants to move forward.”
The Ulster Unionist Party’s North Belfast spokesperson, Andy Allen, also condemned the ongoing attacks, branding them “an attempt to create a sectarian ghetto at the site.”
“I am absolutely disgusted at the latest attempt to whip up community tensions in North Belfast. This graffiti incident is the latest in a number of incidents which are clearly designed to intimidate Protestants who may be thinking of applying for housing in the new development,” Mr Allen said.
“Clearly in spite of fine words of a shared future, and the noble intention of creating an area of shared housing, there are elements within the nationalist and republican community who are not prepared to share the Felden housing site with anyone from a Protestant or unionist community background.”
A spokesperson for Clanmil Housing commented: “We are really looking forward to the first families moving into the new homes in early autumn and hope that the local community will make them feel welcome.
“We are deeply concerned that graffiti has appeared in the area with the intention of intimidating people who need a home and we would urge anyone with information about this to report it to the police.
“We are grateful to people in the local area who are continuing to work with us to make this scheme a success for everyone.”
Police investigating the attacks at the Mill Road site have appealed for anyone with relevant information to contact them.