Fountain hate crimes follow flag dispute

Loyalist flags erected and kerbs painted at Horace Street in the city this week. DER2813JM49

Loyalist flags erected and kerbs painted at Horace Street in the city this week. DER2813JM49

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Two women, one aged 77, have been forced to flee their Fountain Estate homes following a series of sectarian attacks.

The incidents, which police confirmed are being investigated as ‘hate crimes,’ saw windows smashed and homes attacked with paint bombs, over the course of three nights.

One of the victims, who did not wish to be identified, described the attacks as “horrendous.” She then appealled to those responsible, stating: “I no longer live in Horace Street, please stop attacking the property.”

The lady made the appeal, as, even after she had removed her belongings from her former Horace Street home, the attacks continued. She said: “I had to move as I feared they would set the place on fire. There are other residents there and I am clearly concerned for their safety. That is the only reason I moved out. It wasn’t just a wee flat in the Fountain, to me it was my home. I am heartbroken but I left.”

The victim, who is now living in alternative accomodation elsewhere in the city, believes the incidents were orchestrated against her after she complained to a number of people hanging loyalist flags on Horace Street. “It was an Ulster 1972 flag, I asked those hanging it to move it round the corner where the kerbstones were painted but they gave me a mouthful. Where is the new dispensation? Where is the peace? I cried for four days after moving out but I am more devastated for my neighbours.

“Not only did they attack my home but they broke the windows of my 77 year-old neighbour. She had nothing to do with anything but has had to move out also.

“People always asked me ‘How do you live up there?’ But I never felt fear there, I never, ever had a problem in the Fountain. I have friends from all sections of the community but this has been terrible. All this over which lampost they hang flags from?” she added incredulously. “I never wanted to offend anyone but clearly we can’t air our views in an orderly fashion. What galls me is that not one neighbour, not one community leader from the Fountain, came to check on me after the incidents. My whole life has been turned upside down.”

Police confirmed they are investigating three reports of criminal damage in the Horace Street area. The first occurred at approximately 12.25am on Saturday June 22. A second incident, at 3am on Tuesday July 2, was reported and sometime between 8pm on Tuesday July 2 and noon on Wednesday July 3, the property was then daubed with paint. Anyone with any information is asked to contact police on 0845 600 8000.