Escalating anti-Catholic attacks in a ‘shared’ housing development in south Belfast have left a disabled man fearing for his life as well as the life of his four-year-old son.
James Murtagh said he has been told that “next time it will be a petrol bomb or a knife” after bricks shattered two windows in his sitting room on Sunday night, landing on the sofa where his child had been sleeping just moments earlier.
The 64-year-old lives alone in the south Belfast development with his son following the death of the boy’s mother eight months ago. They are one of just two Catholic households remaining in the street which was originally earmarked as a mixed area by housing authorities.
It is close to Cantrell Close, a heavily-funded programme for cross-community housing called ‘Together: Building a United Community’.
Mr Murtagh believes the unionist paramilitary UVF is behind the campaign to drive them from their home. He said the grieving child has been left distressed by the constant attacks on their property with four cars wrecked since July, and now the house itself targeted.
“It was grown men who put those windows out,” he said. “He was crying and saying `the bad men, daddy’ and I told him `No son, it was a man who had bad beer and he threw a brick and it hit our window by accident’.”
He said the UVF won’t allow Catholics in the area.
“I’m just an ordinary man with one leg and health problems. I’m rearing the baby on my own. I made our wee home lovely. I was sitting so proud of myself and how nice I have it for him.
“These were built as a flagship (development) and now I’m the last man standing and another Catholic man in a flat on his own. They want to [move] the UVF in.”
Mr Murtagh said one person in the area warned him: “If you don’t leave they [the UVF] will take it that you’re giving them the fingers and next time it will be a petrol bomb or you’ll open the door thinking it’s the window cleaner and it will be a knife.”