Protestants leave Torrens estate
Protestants leave Torrens estate

Ten Protestant families have left an estate in north Belfast, blaming intimidation on republicans from neighbouring areas.

However, Sinn Féin has strongly denied any republican campaign, “organised or otherwise” against residents of the Torrens estate.

Local councillor Eoin O Broin of Sinn Féin blamed the bulk of interface violence on the UDA, but accepted that life had been difficult for the Torrens estate.

“It is an interface community and it has suffered from a high level of interface violence over the last number of years, like many of the interfaces in north Belfast,” he said. “While these families have taken the decision to move out of the estate, it is not because of either a campaign of republican intimidation or ongoing sectarian violence.”

Ms Elizabeth Ferguson, a resident of 38 years, said: “We are getting forced out of our homes. I used to take my kids to school and get spat on and called all the lovely names under the sun.

“Three weeks ago they wrote ‘IRA’ on my living room window and front door. I don’t want to go but I have no other option.”

The estate is near the nationalist Oldpark Road and Cliftonville Road, areas which have also suffered heavily from simmering sectarian tension this summer.

“There has been a large amount of interface violence at this location over the last number of years, primarily instigated by the UDA,” said Mr O Broin.

“Nationalist homes have been pipe-bombed and petrol bombed and a large number of Catholic families have been forced to leave Wyndham Street.

“However, in the last 12 months good progress has been made and like the other interfaces across north Belfast we have had a quieter summer this year than last and the year before.”

The Housing Executive said of the latest move from Torrens: “Unfortunately this situation is not unusual for the Housing Executive, which has had to respond to the re-housing needs of both communities in Northern Ireland over the past 30 years.

“The Protestant community in Torrens has been declining in numbers over recent years and there is currently little to no demand for housing from the Protestant community for this area.”

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