Graffiti warns Catholics to stay away

Posted By: July 01, 2015

CONNLA YOUNG. Irish News ( Belfast). Wednesday, July 1. 2015.

SECTARIAN graffiti warning Catholics to stay out of loyalist areas has appeared on walls across east Belfast.

The sinister development came as interface tensions continue to rise ahead of the annual Marching Season.

Nationalists claim that flares and other missiles were hurled at Catholic-owned homes in the Bryson Street and Bryson Gardens area of Short Strand in recent days.

Police have said there have been reports of missiles being thrown into the nationalist districts and the nearby loyalist Thistle Court area.

Threatening graffiti was also scrawled on walls in the loyalist Ravenhill Road and Woodstock road districts on Monday night warning nationalists to keep off “our roads”.

Sinn Féin councillor Niall Ó Donnghaile last night said he has asked city council officials to remove some of the graffiti.

A slogan written on a wall at Woodstock Road included the warning: “No S/S (Short Strand) Taigs on our roads.”

Short Strand is a tiny nationalist enclave almost completely surrounded by loyalist districts.

With few facilities or shops in the area, many residents travel into nearby loyalist districts for everyday essentials.

There was controversy more than a decade ago when similar graffiti was painted on walls warning Catholics to stay out loyalist areas.

In 2002 nationalists were forced to set up a temporary doctor’s surgery in the area’s community centre after loyalists blockaded a GP’s surgery in Bryson Street.

At the time slogans painted on the Newtownards Road read: “No Short Strand Taigs on our road. At your own risk”.

Mr Ó Donnghaile believes there is a link between rising interface tensions and the most recent graffiti.

“I am always very conscious not to raise tensions because that does not benefit anyone,” he said.

“We would be foolish not to pay attention to what’s going on.

“If someone’s house on the Malone Road or Stranmillis was being paint-bombed and hit by petrol bombs and flares night after night while the PSNI were in the area there would be an outcry.”

“These residents are ratepayers’ and entitled to the same standard of policing as anywhere else.”

Belfast city district commander, Chief Superintendent Nigel Grimshaw, said there has been a surge in antisocial behaviour across the city. Flashpoints include areas of east and north Belfast.

“I would appeal for calm over the coming days and weeks and urge those who have influence within local communities to engage with their community and help us to keep people safe.”

“Police resources have been deployed in specific areas in order to increase visibility and to act as a deterrent to individuals who may be considering orchestrating any attack.”

His comments came as North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds called for a meeting with police claiming youths have clashed at flashpoints in North Queen Street and Duncairn Gardens with petrol bombs being used in attacks.

The MP also claimed that houses on the loyalist side of the Crumlin Road had come under attack from nationalist youths and cited a recent attack on Clifton Street Orange Hall as well as incidents at Twaddell Avenue.