Unionist city enclave ‘thinks nobody cares’

PSNI
PSNI

Residents of a unionist enclave in Belfast are being urged to help build up a picture of all sectarian and anti-social behaviour against their neighbourhood.

It follows reports of damage to a house and abuse being shouted by youths on Wednesday night in the area.

One UUP member claimed that the community is now experiencing a “worryingly low level” of confidence in police and “a belief that nobody cares”.

The Suffolk estate, located around the Blacks Road area to the south-west of the city, is surrounded by strongly republican areas.

It has been the scene of numerous attacks in the last few years, ranging from vandalism to petrol bombs being thrown.

Gareth Martin, a west Belfast UUP member, said: “Wednesday night saw a further incursion into the Suffolk estate when a group of youths entered from the Blacks Road area and chanted IRA slogans and sang republican songs.

“I have been informed by local people that police were in the vicinity elsewhere on the Blacks Road but when asked about intervention said they hadn’t seen anything.”

He also stressed it is important to “report all incidents to the police and to obtain a log number which they should retain so that we can build up an accurate picture of the frequency and nature of these incidents”.

He said they are no different from racist or anti-gay attacks, and are “fuelled by blind ignorance and hatred towards those from a different background”.

Yesterday, police initially told the News Letter: “Police received a report that a window had been damaged in the Suffolk area, however there were no reports of a crowd of youths in the area at the time.”

The News Letter raised the claim that officers had in fact been contacted about such an incident.

Two hours later the police responded: “On Wednesday evening, July 1, police received a report of a crowd shouting sectarian abuse in the Blacks Road area of Belfast.

“Police take any report of disorder very seriously.

“We are working closely with local community and elected representatives and other statutory bodies to address problems of antisocial behaviour in the Suffolk area and I would encourage anyone experiencing such behaviour to report it to us.

“I would also appeal for those who have influence to engage with their community, share anything relevant and help us to keep people safe.”