Loyalist paramilitaries are being effectively shielded by Six County PSNI police while passing on racist threats to their targets, judging from a recent case in south Belfast.
A Polish woman has said she wants to know how the PSNI came to know of an arson threat, which has now forced her to move from her rented property in the Village area.
The woman, who wishes to remain anonymous due to the threat, said that while the PSNI told her they were aware her house could be set on fire, she was only informed that this came from “another department” within the force.
According to the Detail, she was not told who made the threat, which came in March this year, or how this other “department” came to know of it.
The woman said: “I went to Lisburn Road police station to discuss it and I said ‘this is not good enough.’ What kind of information was it? Was it written? Was it a phone call? Was it a text? How did they come to know of the threat and who made it?”
The threat came after what the woman described as a prolonged period of intimidation relating to her and her friend’s homes on the same street.
Previously, in June 2019, the woman came back from holiday to see ‘f*** off’ sprayed on her house’s rear door. She didn’t contact the police immediately after this incident, but she did later.
In August 2019, there were further incidents which she also told the PSNI about.Then towards the end of October 2019, the woman and some of her friends went to a Hallowe’en party in a Belfast bar.
“About a week later there was a knock at my door and there were two gentlemen standing there,” she said. The men said there were complaints about her ‘torturing the street’ but they wouldn’t say who made them. While the men didn’t introduce themselves as loyalist paramilitaries, the woman said it was clear that they were.
The following night, a brick was thrown through her window, and the night after that, bangers were thrown through her letterbox. Further threats came by way of an estate agency who operated the rental.
An American friend, who helped the Polish woman, said she knew the neighbours had cameras and felt they were watching her comings and goings. She said: “I felt like a criminal living in my home. It was a nightmare.” When she moved out of her property at the end of January 2020, the neighbours were cheering on the street. She later travelled to the United States, where she is now living.
The Polish woman described the influence of loyalist paramilitaries in the are as being “like the mafia”.
Her problems continued this year. Her greenhouse was damaged, her plants were dumped upside down and there were beer cans thrown all over her back garden. She said she “broke down” and again went to the PSNI who told her she didn’t have any proof of who did it.
In March her keyhole was glued up. Then the most sinister threat emerged. The Polish woman said: “I was told by police they had received information that my house would be set on fire.
“A threat like that, you take it seriously. I was living on my own.” She bolted up her letterbox.
That the PSNI could not say how they came to know of the arson threat, other than to say it came from “another department” made her suspicious of why more information couldn’t be passed on.
“There were moments when I just wanted to run away, to disappear and never come back,” she said.
The arson threat proved to be a breaking point. She stayed at a colleague’s for a few days before moving out. “I used to be fearless,” she said. “Now, I’m paranoid.”