Protestant family ‘forced to leave’ home (UTV)

A Protestant couple and their five-month-old baby girl say they are being forced to leave their home at a north Belfast interface after a series of sectarian attacks.

On Monday night, Marcus Walker and his partner Nicola Gillespie had to call the police out to their Westland Drive home after the front door was smashed in and graffitti sprayed onto it.

The couple only moved to the area four months ago, believing it to be a suitable place to bring up their baby daughter Darcy.

Their Housing Executive home overlooks a play park and the picturesque waterworks, but it is on the edge of an interface with the Cliftonville Road and lower Antrim Road.

Marcus says their house was targeted two weeks after they arrived and the attacks have continued ever since.

“The police have been here 20 times in the space of four months,” he said, before adding that he was “beyond concerned” about his family’s safety.

Marcus said the only reason they were being targeted was because of their religion, adding: “I feel very lucky that we haven’t been killed.”

Last Friday night, Nicola was alone in the house with their baby girl when petrol was poured through the letterbox.

“I looked out the bedroom window and saw four men outside in a nearby field,” she said, explaining that she triggered a panic alarm when she realised they were being attacked yet again.

Fearing for the safety of their daughter, the worried parents have asked to be moved to another house.

“I just don’t want to be here anymore,” she said, adding that there was no price for her child’s life and that they could no longer live in terror.

“I just need another home somewhere else.”

The police say they are working with Belfast City Council and community representatives to try to resolve the situation.

In a statement, the Housing Executive says it has the family offered them temporary accommodation but to date this has been refused.

It is now awaiting a report from the PSNI before taking any further action.

Pat Convery, an SDLP councillor in north Belfast, condemned the attacks saying they “served no purpose.”

The former mayor said: “We can’t have a city trying to work towards peace with people roaming around damaging property, wrecking homes and destroying family life.”

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