Ligoniel residents hit out at ongoing attacks

Nationalist residents of Ligoniel say they are being forced to run a daily gauntlet of loyalist intimidation and attacks as they make their way to and from their homes.

And they have compiled a shocking dossier of attacks which details over 20 assaults on property and people in the days leading up to the Twelfth during which time there was a blockade of the Ligoniel Road.

The dossier of attacks, which is being passed on to the NIO, also details PSNI inaction on the attacks, many of which occurred at traffic lights at the junction of the Ligoniel and Crumlin Roads. The residents also claimed that the Ligoniel Park is also being used by Protestant youths to attack cars on their way in and out of the nationalist enclave.

But the Ligoniel residents who gathered this week in the wake of the Twelfth blockades and parade said they just wanted to live in peace.

And the people living in the 600 homes in the area said the crisis was not being addressed by the PSNI or unionist politicians.

“What we have here is lawlessness at the turn of the road,” a spokesperson for the residents said. “The police turn a blind eye and they say they don’t have the resources to send jeeps up to protect people who are being attacked while driving through with their kids. The thugs know our cars and they attack with bricks and bottles. The police do nothing. They won’t even say it’s sectarian.

“There were bonfires put up on the road at Glenbank and Wheatfield that you had to drive around. That is illegal, but it’s allowed to happen. The loyalists held a protest last week because they weren’t being allowed up the road, and unionist politicians supported it. That’s an absolute disgrace.

“There were leaders of the UDA present in the background at that blockade. The UDA is running the show here backed up by the police who look on and do nothing. We just want the attacks to end and some peace.”

Local councillor Eoin O’Broin said continuous complaints to the NIO about the attacks had fallen on deaf ears despite the UDA’s North Belfast brigadier Andre Shoukri being at the protest.

“We put complaints in every day to the NIO about the PSNI handling of these attacks. In terms of last week’s blockade the NIO and the PSNI allowed the thing to go ahead. Can you imagine what would happen if nationalists tried to blockade a unionist district?” he said.

“In addition to the protest preventing people from getting home, Translink put nationalist residents in jeopardy by making them get off the bus at the bottom of the Ligoniel Road. This meant that residents had to pass through the protestors on foot where some of them were verbally abused.

“My fear is that this will happen again on Thursday and Friday night and I am calling on unionist and loyalist leaders to do whatever is in their power to make sure this does not happen.”

But John Bunting of the UPRG disputed claims that UDA top brass were at the protest.

“The UDA were not banned from marching, it’s the Orange Order. This was not organised by the UDA and Andre Shoukri was not there or any senior loyalists,” he said. “Anyone I saw protesting were women and children. What are we doing now, pushing prams?”

Journalist:: Staff Reporter

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