**This is the 'Ireland of Equals'


This time last year dozens of Catholic families had to leave their homes in Deerpark under a hail of abuse and a stream of death threats.

Loyalist paramilitaries orchestrated a mass campaign of intimidation against their homes, which to this day still lie empty.

Last week the last of ten Protestant families left their homes in Torrens Court.

They claimed that republicans intimidated them out of their homes.

Today the Housing Executive confirmed that the residents of Torrens were paid an undisclosed amount of money to help move.

Speculation that the families were each given thousands of pounds was rubbished by a spokeswoman for the Housing Executive who said that the figure was a gross exaggeration.

“A standard payment was made to the residents of Torrens who moved recently, to cover their removal costs.
“This payment was fully in line with the HE’s policies and procedures.”

One woman who left her home in Deerpark on September 3, 2003 after her windows and doors were smashed said she was outraged by the news.

“This is just pure discrimination.

“Me and many others who had to leave their homes in Deerpark received no assistance from the Housing Executive in terms of where we should go after we were intimidated out of our homes or money to help with moving,” said the woman who wished to remain anonymous.

“When we left we had nowhere to go and we were told to go to a hostel.

“That would have split up the family so we didn’t do that.

“A friend of ours said we could sleep on the floor so we did that until we found somewhere more permanent.

“I can’t understand why they are making a difference between us. It’s so unfair.”

Another family, this time a newly married couple, have yet to sell their home in Deerpark.

They were evicted from their home in Deerpark one week before they were due to get married and to this day, are still paying a mortgage for a house they do not, and cannot live in.

“We think the house is going to get repossessed,” the man said.

“But we have no choice, we are snowed under with repayments.

“We tried to move in again six months ago but the police came up to us and told us there was death threats made against us.

“They told us to leave and not come back.

“We are in debt and danger and now you hear that families in Torrens are getting money. It’s just not fair.

“We need help just as much as they do.”

Journalist:: Áine McEntee

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