A couple have fled their east Belfast home after a sectarian attack by a loyalist mob left their young daughter injured.
The toddler’s forearm was cut by flying glass when a crowd of around fifteen men attacked the home on Derwent Street, off Newtownards Road, with hammers on Monday evening.
The front door of the property, located in a predominantly unionist area, was bludgeoned down with hammers. The windows of the living room and an upstairs bedroom were smashed.
The 25-year-old father and his daughter were at home when the mob struck.
Clare Smallwood, a sister of the man who lives in the house, said her two-year-old niece had been left “very shaken”.
“She has cuts on her arm. She had glass in her hair,” she said, which had to be brushed out.
“She just kept saying ‘the bad men broke my daddy’s house’.”
Sinn Fein councillor Niall O Donnghaile, the mayor of Belfast, condemned “the thugs who are responsible for such a vicious attack on a young family in their own home”.
“My thoughts are with the family who have indicated they will not return to the house,” he said.
The area has been the scene of tensions in recent months. There were disturbances in June after about 100 masked members of the east Belfast UVF attacked residents of the nationalist Short Strand district, before being repelled by local republicans.
In County Down, a chef who was beaten with baseball bats outside Downpatrick golf club says he believes the attack was sectarian.
Seamus Murphy suffered head injuries after two men attacked him. He was treated in hospital for his injuries and had eight staples put into his scalp as a result.
He had been living in a flat above the club’s restaurant with his partner and five-week-old baby but has vowed never to return.
Mr Murphy was attacked shortly after 9.20pm alter he had got into his car. He said that one of the men shouted “get the Fenian bastard” during the attack. Money was also taken from the car as the men attempted to drag him from the vehicle.
“I managed to get out of the car but as I was running away, I must have been hit again because I fainted,” he said.
In Antrim town, a pipe bomb attack at the house of a Polish couple has been blamed on the ‘South-East Antrim Real UFF’, a breakaway unionist paramilitary group. The viable device was defused after a three hour alert
The ‘SEAR UFF’ has been behind a large number of sectarian and racist attacks in the town over the past two years. The home of another Polish family was attacked by a mob throwing stones last week, and graffiti warning that foreign nationals would be targeted was daubed on walls in the area. A number of Polish families are now considering leaving the area where they have lived for six years.
Although the same loyalist group has carried out some 24 attacks in the past two years, the PSNI have not yet charged anyone in relation to the various incidents. On Thursday night, it was reported that a member of the DUP, a former election candidate, was arrested in connection with the attacks.
Sinn Fein councillor Noel Maguire said the latest bomb incident had “an obvious racist motive” and was “an escalation of an existing threat that the people of Antrim can do without”.