Gun attacks not travellers feud

By Staff Reporter

An emergency meeting was held in West Belfast yesterday after a series of violent attacks on a local Traveller family.

On Saturday night, a shot was fired at a house in Sliabh Dubh View but nobody was injured.  On Monday evening, two men, one of them armed with a shotgun, approached a house at Mill Race off the Monagh By-Pass. A shot was fired through a window while a number of other windows were smashed, with flammable liquid poured through one.  On Tuesday night, a van was petrol bombed outside the same house that was attacked in Sliabh Dubh View.

While reports of a new  Traveller feud have swept the community, Sinn Féin Councillor for the Upper Springfield Stevie Corr said only one family is being attacked. Speaking after yesterday’s meeting, which was attended by the PSNI and a number of local agencies, Councillor Corr said while two sets of Travellers are involved in a dispute, the violence has been all one-way.

“This is not a feud,” he said firmly.  “The two houses attacked are owned by brothers from the one family and those houses have been systematically and ruthlessly attacked over the past number of days following a situation that has been simmering since Halloween. The victims have not hit back, they are being tortured and terrorised by another group of Travellers believed  to be from the Colin area.”

Councillor Corr is now to distribute a letter throughout Sliabh Dubh in a bid to ease concerns among residents.

“We held this meeting today with Community Restorative Justice, An Munia Tober, Fold Housing, the PSNI, Belfast City Council, the Belfast Trust and the Community Safety Forum to get as much background facts as we could,” he said.

“There is a lot of misinformation going about that it was a feud and we wanted to get to the bottom of it. Now we have the information, I will be delivering a letter to concerned residents about these incidents asking them to be vigilant and to report anything suspicious.

“The PSNI will be having high visibility patrols in the area too to stop this happening again.

“Those involved have no concern for the safety of the community and this can’t to allowed to escalate.

“Sliabh Dubh is a quiet, settled area, it doesn’t need this type of activity. We are asking those with mayhem and murder on their minds to stay out of this community, we don’t want them here, that’s all there is to it.”

Harry Maguire from Community Restorative Justice Ireland chaired yesterday’s meeting at the Falls Community Council offices on the Falls Road.

“It’s not a feud,” said Harry. “One family is being attacked. There is an aggressor here and there is a victim here.”

He added that it was now a policing matter.

The PSNI have confirmed they are investigating the two attacks.

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