Peace fund shakedown blamed for attack on home of disabled boy
Peace fund shakedown blamed for attack on home of disabled boy


Unionist paramilitaries have attacked the home of a disabled boy in their latest move to claim ‘territory’ in County Antrim.

The specially adapted house was one of two properties attacked in Antrim town in the early hours of Sunday, June 30.

Windows were smashed and paint bombs thrown at the properties at Redford Grove at around 3am on Sunday morning. The group suspected of carrying out the attack has been linked to other sectarian and racist incidents in the area.

Last week loyalist flags were put up at the new mixed development and kerb stones had been painted red, white and blue.

It followed news that a new round of so-called “peace funds” was being issued to loyalist paramilitary groups in the area.

The estate is supposed to be a ‘shared space’ but is near the predominately loyalist Ballycraigy estate.

One of the properties targeted in the most recent loyalist attack was specially built for Jessy Clark, who suffers from spina bifida and has a range of complex medical needs.

The purpose-built bungalow has been adapted to meet Jessy’s medical requirements and includes a hoist and widened doorways.

The 9-year-old, who uses a wheelchair, was due to move into the specially adapted house with his young sisters, aged seven and two, and their mother in the coming days.

His mother got the keys of the family new home last Wednesday. The family said the PSNI later warned them not to move into the property “because they would be harmed”.

But the family have vowed they’ll move into the bungalow to “face down” the thugs who have threatened them, according to reports.

Jessy’s great grandmother Margaret Hart spoke of the impact of what has happened.

“It makes me ashamed to call myself a Protestant,” said Margaret.

“I’m worried and my heart is broken. I can’t understand it at all. I don’t know if it’s about Catholic and Protestant. I don’t know what it’s about.”

“I feel sick, I can’t eat, I can’t sleep,” she added. “This was supposed to be Jessy’s forever home.”

On Monday Jessy’s other great grandmother Pauline O’Loan, who is a Catholic, said they had been told by the PSNI that it was a sectarian hate crime.

She said those responsible have “no empathy” and labelled them “heartless”.

Both great grandparents say they do not know who was responsible for the attack and added that they are willing to talk to anyone who can help.

“We are willing to meet up with anybody that can discuss this, if we can discuss this with anybody we are willing to do that and tell our story and explain that Jessy needs this,” she said.

Crosshairs and “locals only” graffiti have been sprayed at properties around the area of county Antrim in a recent increase of activity by loyalist gangs, while UVF murals have also sprung up in loyalist areas across the North.

Last week, a small group holding placards shouted abuse at Sinn Fein Michelle O’Neill outside a women’s centre in the unionist Shankill area of Belfast by loyalists angered over the funding of paramilitary-linked groups.

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