Kelly: end ‘myth of ethnic cleansing’

Sinn Féin has said that DUP and PUP claims that Protestant communities are being ethnically cleansed in North Belfast have reached “mythical proportions”.
This week Billy Hutchinson of the PUP claimed the lower Oldpark area was facing intimidation by republicans with people being attacked “day and daily”.
Billy Hutchinson linked his claims at a City Hall meeting to the ten families who moved out of the Torrens estate in August.
The families agreed to leave the derelict estate after talks between unionist politicians and the Housing Executive and were relocated.
But the families and unionist politicians, including North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds, said they had been attacked by republicans and forced to leave their homes.
“We need to make sure this doesn’t happen again or I’ll tell you where is going to be next – Lower Oldpark, because these people are being attacked day and daily,” said Billy Hutchinson.
But Gerry Kelly said nationalists had been in contact with his office to express their disbelief and anger at the comments.
“Attacks in this community happen both ways. There were attacks on Torrens and we have put our case time and again. There are people out volunteering and trying to prevent these attacks – usually from kids,” he said.
“Compared to other interfaces, the problems in Torrens were not on the same scale. We need to see the facts; over 80 per cent of those homeless in North Belfast are from the nationalist community. Of attacks well over 90 per cent are paramilitary attacks by the UDA on Catholics.”
Gerry Kelly argued that large pieces of land were lying on the Shankill Road, an area with no interface. He said the problems facing unionists were from their own community.
“You just have to look at the lower Shankill and the empty plots of land where there is no sectarianism. The UDA are destroying areas like that with their drug dealing and loyalist racketeering and people are moving out.
“Sectarianism is on the edge of housing areas. Torrens had ongoing problems of negative housing and unionist politicians were involved in planning the move. We need to dispel some of these claims that are becoming mythical in proportion.
“There is no grand plan and the unionist politicians involved need to resolve these issues within their communities,” he said.

Journalist:: Staff Reporter

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