PSNI now treating attacks as sectarian

Hate campaign against nationalist businesses

Two of the four vehicles burnt in loyalist attacks at the weekend Two of the four vehicles burnt in loyalist attacks at the weekend
By Staff Reporter

An interface auto yard which was petrol bombed twice during the Twelfth week has been targeted again by loyalists who this time entered the yard and torched another four cars.

The latest attack on J&K Sons fuel depot at the top of Rosapenna Street was accompanied by another assault on a related business in nearby Hillview Road in which a further two cars were burnt out. Both took place in the early hours of the morning on Saturday and Sunday.

The sectarian attacks, which were last week and this week described by the PSNI as ‘arson’ have led to calls for an end to the hate campaign being waged against nationalist businesses on the North Belfast interface.

When pressed this week by the North Belfast News as to why the attacks were not being investigated as sectarian a PSNI spokesman said they would now be treating the attacks as such as the business owner in question deemed them to be so. The spokesman declined to comment on why the attacks were not being classed as sectarian from the outset.

The four cars set alight at the Rosapenna Street yard were worth a total of £14,000 – one was already sold before the attacks occurred.

Owner John Kelly said, “We’re a cross-community business, I have Catholics and Protestants working for me and customers from both sides. But these are sectarian attacks, there’s a crowd carrying this out and they were caught on CCTV.”

Oldpark Sinn Fein councillor Danny Lavery slammed the sectarian attacks as ‘completely wrong’ and called for them to end.

“This hate campaign against local businesses in the nationalist area of Oldpark must stop now. Yet again this weekend we have seen many cars burnt out in businesses in the lower Oldpark and Rosapenna area with petrol bombs coming from the unionist side. These businesses have been suffering from this nakedly sectarian campaign since June and the PSNI must act to bring those responsible before the courts.”

Cllr Lavery added that there was good work being done to end interface violence which had reduced considerably in recent years.

“However, while it is difficult to stop every single isolated attack, this concerted hate campaign against local businesses at Rosapenna and Hillview is much more concerning,” he added.

“I’ve spoken to local residents and the police and have arranged a direct meeting with the PSNI at a senior level to press for prompt action on this issue. People may be aware that there is fuel stored at these sites and while the owners are making every effort to ensure public safety we can’t allow these repeated petrol bomb attacks to cause a major fire.”

The first attack on the yard occurred over the Twelfth weekend when two cars were burnt out.

The second attack happened on Wednesday 17th July, the night of the Cliftonville and Celtic match when another vehicle was torched.

The PSNI said, “Police in Tennent Street are appealing for information following an incident of arson at a commercial premises in the Mountview Street area of North Belfast in the early hours of Sunday 28 July. At approximately 3.45am, it was reported that four cars had been set on fire.”

By Pádraic Grant

 

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