A Catholic mother-of-five says she has been forced out of her County Derry home after a five-year campaign of sectarian abuse.
Pauline Clynch took her family from the house in a predominantly loyalist area of Magherafelt after a brick was thrown through the living room window in the latest attack. She said she took the decision in fear for the lives of her children, aged from two to 15.
“We’ve just had enough. You don’t know what it might be next time. It could be a petrol bomb or something.”
Mrs Clynch, whose husband Eddie is a Protestant, said they have been targeted “because we are Catholic and the children go to Catholic schools”.
The couple, who have lived in the same street for 13 years, were woken during the early hours of last Wednesday by a loud bang.
“‘We knew what it was straight away,” Mrs Clynch said.
“My husband went downstairs and found the window had been put in by a big lump of a brick.”
The rear windscreen of the family car was also smashed.
Mrs Clynch said the family had been the target of abuse for five years and were afraid to leave the house.
“The children can’t even go out. They are prisoners in their own home. They get shouted at and called Fenians,” she said.
“We built a wall and put up a gate to keep the child ren in but even then there were kids coming over and shouting at them.
“They used to come into the garden and break and steal the children’s toys.
“We can’t even go out for a walk. We went out to the new Tesco when it opened last year but were called Fenians in the street and spat at.
“The only time the children go outside the house is to sit in the car and play.
“If I want to take them out, we have to drive somewhere.”
The family’s home has suffered several smashed windows in the past. A front window was damaged three years ago and again last year.
“We had our window smashed on July 10 last year and then the car was smashed on July 12,” Mrs Clynch said.
“We are tormented all year round. We own the house and have tried to sell it -and with a mortgage to pay. That is why we haven’t moved out.
“But we just want out now and that’s it. It’s no way to live.
The family are now living with relatives, with some of the children forced to sleep on the living room floor while they wait to be rehoused.
Sinn Fein councillor Sean McPeake, who has been working with the family, said “they are in a very bad way”.
“l thought this sort of activity was a thing of the past but it is being resurrected in Magherafelt,” he said.
“It’s down to some loyalists being unwilling to live with nationalist neighbours.”