Traveller family flees dream home after neighbours hold protest. Young mum claims that she’s scapegoat after Megan McAlorum murder...

An angry mob of 15 Poleglass residents have prevented a young Traveller family from starting a new life in a local house.

Mary Cawley and her six children arrived at their new home at Hazelwood Avenue to begin moving in their belongings only to find the crowd of protesters milling around outside the front door. Mary said she was told by the crowd that she wouldn’t be allowed to live in the house because of “the situation”. She said that she believes that to be a reference to heightened tensions between the Travelling and settled communities in the wake of the murder of 16-year-old Glencolin girl Megan McAlorum. Two members of the local Travelling community have been charged in connection with Megan’s murder.

Traveller forced to flee new home

A member of the Travelling community has said she has been embarrassed and humiliated by a group of residents who refused to let her move into her new home in West Belfast.

Mother-of-six Mary Cawley was due to move into new accommodation in Hazelwood Avenue. She says that she and her young family were intimidated by a group of between 10 and 15 residents who gathered outside the house and voiced their objection to the family moving in.

Local community workers who have been in contact with Mrs Cawley and who visited the house condemned the incident as “disgraceful” and said that the people involved were “cowards”. However, residents have said that they objected to the move because Mrs Cawley is involved in a Traveller feud – a claim she has categorically denied. Following the incident, Mary Cawley has had to return to her previous address in South Belfast and is currently seeking another home.

Mary was granted accommodation under the Housing Executive’s ‘Single Let’ system, which operates in conjunction with a private landlord. She had moved half her belongings into the house on Friday last when two people came to her door.

“A man and a woman came to the door and a man shoved a piece of paper into my face and told me to ring the number,” said Mary. “I asked him to give me his name and he wouldn’t tell me it, he then phoned my landlord and told him to come to the house immediately.”

Mary said that she is in no doubt that the residents in Hazelwood wanted her out because she is a Traveller.

“They told me that I would have to leave because of ‘the situation’. I asked what situation and they wouldn’t tell me. I am convinced that this is to do with the murder of Megan McAlorum, but they can’t tar all of us with the same brush.

“They also said that I would have to leave or face the consequences,” she added.

Mary said that her nine-year-old daughter, Margaret Rose, had been left traumatised by Friday night’s events.

“My wee girl Margaret Rose kept asking me, why do they not want us here? “I don’t want to ever go through anything like this again,” said Mary.

Joseph Brennan of Brennan Properties, who own the house, witnessed the incident. Mr Brennan said that he had been asked by the Housing Executive to house the Cawley family at his property and had no problems in letting the house to members of the Travelling community.

“I met the family before they were due to move in and I knew they were from the Travelling community. I can’t and won’t discriminate against anybody, and gave the keys to Mrs Cawley on Friday morning,” he said.

“I got a call later from someone to say that residents objected to them moving in and I went up to the house. By this stage there was about 10 or 15 people gathered outside.

“I spoke to some of the people who said that they objected to the Cawleys moving in because they were involved in a family feud and didn’t want any trouble.

“I won’t discriminate against any race, creed, colour or political background. “We do, however, take residents’ feelings into consideration,” he added.

Deirdre Groves from Community Restorative Justice said that she had been contacted by Mrs Cawley and went to the house accompanied by fellow community worker Annie Armstrong on Friday evening.

“I would condemn this behaviour, it was disgraceful,” said Ms Groves. “These people would not come forward and give their names to Mary or the reasons why they didn’t want the family to move in, they are cowards,” she added.

Ms Groves said that CRJ plan to call a meeting in Hazelwood to make it clear that racism will not be tolerated.

“CRJ treats everyone equally,” she added.

A member of the Hazelwood Residents Association, who did not wish to be named, said that residents had good reasons for objecting to the Cawley family moving into the area.

“We heard through a reliable source that she was involved in a feud,” said the resident.

“We objected to the family moving in because we were concerned about the safety of our children. When Travellers become involved in feuds things can get heavy-handed.

“We have nothing against Travellers and this is not, as has been suggested, anything to do with the murder of Megan McAlorum.

“If another family from the Travelling Community moved in we would have no objections just as long as they are not involved in a feud,” he added. A spokesman for the Housing Executive said that the Housing Executive had received reports about the incident.

“We understand that this family was recently prevented from moving into temporary accommodation. We are working to identify suitable alternative temporary accommodation for the family pending the allocation of a permanent tenancy.”

Journalist:: Roisin Cox

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?