UVF blamed for threats to Cantrell Close Catholic families

A flag flying near the Cantrell development
A flag flying near the Cantrell development

Loyalist paramilitaries have been blamed for threatening four Catholic families from a mixed housing development in Belfast.

Cantrell Close, off the Ravenhill Road in the south of the city, was supposed to be a flagship cross-community development as part of the Stormont Executive's Together Building United Communities programme.

But four families in the social housing development have now reported themselves homeless to the Housing Executive, claiming they have been the victim of sectarian intimidation.

Assembly members have blamed the UVF.

Also read: Intimidated tenants to lose rehousing priority points

In the summer the development was hit with another controversy when loyalist paramilitary flags were erected on lamp posts.

Assembly member Mairtin O Muilleoir said the east Belfast UVF was behind the intimidation.

He said the police had made the families aware of the paramilitary threats.

"This blatant sectarianism has no place in our society and should be condemned outright," said the Sinn Fein MLA.

"This is meant to be a shared neighbourhood and it is completely unacceptable that people are being intimidated by the UVF in this day and age.

"Some residents raised concerns with me earlier in the year when UVF and other flags went up around the development.

"They felt that this would heighten tensions in the area and Catholics in the area were fearful before the summer.

"People in the area are also very worried that the UVF were able to go about their activity in this manner.

"We need voices from within unionism to speak out and show leadership. We also need the authorities to take a stand against sectarianism in order to tackle this issue adequately."

DUP MP for South Belfast Emma Little Pengelly and party MLA Christopher Stalford issued a joint statement condemning the threats.

"It is absolutely disgraceful that anyone should be threatened from their home," they said.

"This area has traditionally been welcoming to all and those responsible do not represent the area. It must be condemned by everyone.

"Those behind this intimidation must be identified and face the courts. Anyone with information should contact the police and ensure those responsible face the full weight of the law."

A Housing Executive spokesman said: "A number of families in the South Belfast area have presented to us as homeless claiming sectarian intimidation."