Community calls for Interface gates to prevent further attacks

Lower Ormeau residents have called for alleyways dividing McClure Street and Donegall Pass to be sealed off in a bid to prevent further attacks across the interface.

Their call came after two petrol bombs were thrown into Vernon Street on Monday evening, narrowly missing pensioners' homes. This was the second serious missile-throwing incident to occur across the interface within the past month.

According to Lower Ormeau community worker Gerard Rice teenagers gathering in an entry off Cameron Street were responsible for the attack. The previous night they had thrown a frying pan at the same Vernon Street old folks' homes.

Mr Rice insists community representatives on both the Lower Ormeau and Donegall Pass have been working tirelessly to keep the peace along the interface. However, he says that they cannot monitor the area 24-hours a day and without the help of agencies like the Housing Executive their job is made more difficult.

"Teenagers have been using the alleyways dividing Donegall Pass from McClure Street as drinking dens," said Gerard Rice.

"The potential then exists for stupid, drunken antics. We need the Housing Executive to take action and put gates on these alleyways. That would help us to maintain calm."

The interface phone network used by community workers on the Lower Ormeau and Donegall Pass ensured trouble remained at a minimum following Monday's petrol bomb attack.

However, Donegall Pass residents want to see added security measures such as a 25 feet high fence introduced along the interface to protect homes.

"Despite our best efforts there is a risk that one day serious damage is done to property or that someone is injured," said local community worker Terry Watson.

A spokeswoman for the Housing Executive confirmed an approach had been made by community workers regarding the erection of alley gates between the Lower Ormeau and Donegall Pass.

She added that as the HE does not own the alleys in question it was not able to provide the gates direct, although bosses did fully support the proposal.
The HE forwarded the alley gates proposal to the Department of Social Development who rejected the scheme.

"In the meantime we have advised community workers to approach the DSD direct to see if this would now be a feasible initiative," said the spokeswoman.

Journalist:: Staff Reporter

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