The nationalist Short Strand in east Belfast has come under repeated petrol bomb attack, with three attacks in the space of a week.
Last Tuesday, one exploded within feet of a four-year-old girl, who had a miracle escape. That incident came just hours after US President Barack Obama told a Belfast audience that the walls and fences of the city’s ‘peace lines’, which serve to protect nationalists from loyalist attack, should come down.
On Sunday night, five petrol bombs were thrown over the peace line at the homes of Catholic families on Strand Walk. Two of the missiles hit the front of an old lady’s home, while three landed at the rear. A grandmother, who wanted to remain anonymous, said her daughter had to carry her two children out of her home because of the attack.
Lass than 24 hours later, four petrol bombs were thrown at nationalist homes on Bryson Street. Nicola Johnston, whose home was one of those targeted, said that her six-year-old daughter had asked her if they could move home.
“It’s very worrying because it’s now coming into the summer season,” Nicola said. “We can’t actually let them stay out in the street playing. Tensions are very high. We’re trying to maintain a calmness on the street.”
Sinn Féin councillor Niall Ó Donnghaile has condemned the latest spate of violence.
“Not a single arrest has been made,” he said. “After three months of failing this community during the flag protests, the PSNI must be seen to act - to deal with those hellbent on attacking family homes.”
He added: “Once again I am calling on the political leadership of unionism and loyalism to state clearly that these attacks must stop immediately.”
Meanwhile, loyalists were also blamed for again chopping down goal posts at a County Down Gaelic sports pitch. The posts at Carrigenagh playing fields in Kilkeel were hacked down early on Saturday.
In June last year the uprights were chopped down to the size of soccer posts and the word ‘British’ branded on them in a similar attack, one of a series.
The most recent attack took place hours before a loyalist parade involving up to 35 bands through the seaside town. Nationalists have said dozens of British flags were erected around the town in advance of the parade.
Sinn Féin Kilkeel councillor Sean Doran branded the latest attack on the playing field as a “hate crime against children in the Mourne area”.