Unionists have welcomed the “unequivocal” condemnation from nationalists following a sectarian attack on a west Belfast enclave.
One house had a window smashed and four cars were damaged on Friday evening when a large crowd of nationalist youths – many armed with hurling sticks and rucksacks full of bricks – swarmed into the mainly Protestant Suffolk estate on the Blacks Road.
Brian Kingston of the DUP said weekend statements from the SDLP and Sinn Fein were “calling things as they are”.
SDLP MLA Alex Attwood described the incident as “appalling”, while Sinn Fein councillor Matt Garrett said it was “disgraceful” and “sectarian”.
The cross-party condemnation mirrors the response to recent sectarian vandalism at several Protestant-owned premises in Londonderry.
After visiting the Suffolk area on Saturday and yesterday, Councillor Ruth Patterson said: “There are people who just do not want Protestants in Suffolk, but this is a great community, everybody knows that, and they are here to stay. They just want to live in peace.”
A spokesman for the PSNI said the incident was being treated as “a hate crime”.
Friday night’s attack on the Suffolk estate took place shortly after an “out of control” house party, the PSNI has said.
A police spokesman said: “At approximately 9.29pm, police in west Belfast received a report of a house party being 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 youths. It was reported that there were between 50 to 100 youths in the area.”
The PSNI spokesman said no offences were noted by police in regard to the Brooke Drive incident, but added: “Police then received a report at 10pm that a number of cars had been damaged in the Ringford Park area of west Belfast.
“Four cars and the living room window of a house were damaged in this incident.
“Inquiries into this incident remain very much ongoing.
“However police need the help of the community and we need residents to come forward and assist us.”
Police say the incident is being treated as a “hate crime” and have asked anyone with information to contact Woodbourne police station on 0845 600 8000, or to call the independent charity Crimestoppers and speak to them anonymously on 0800 555 111.