Four families forced out of homes in Derry's Waterside following sectarian attacks, councillor says

Shots were fired into the home of a young mother in the Waterside area of Derry on Saturday night. Picture by Margaret McLaughlin
Seamus McKinney

FOUR families have had to be re-housed since August 11 following sectarian attacks in mainly unionist areas of Derry's Waterside, according to a local councillor.

In the latest incident, shots were fired into the home of a young Catholic mother at Rossdowney Drive on Saturday night.

Her one-year-old daughter was asleep in an upstairs bedroom when two shots were fired through the living room window.

The woman's boyfriend, who is also Catholic, said the bullets narrowly missed him and a friend as they sat watching television.

The 22-year-old, who asked not to be named, said he had no doubt the motive was sectarian.

He told The Irish News that his 21-year-old girlfriend, who has now moved into his mother's home on the city side of Derry, was previously warned about bringing Catholics into the area.

“My girlfriend was out and I was watching television with a friend when two shots came through the window and over our head. The shots went through the window and the wall,” he said.

“One of them stuck in the top corner, just below where the baby was sleeping upstairs.

“People are trying to say that there were other reasons for this but that's not true. We don't go out much. I don't drink at all and my girlfriend barely drinks. She was out on Saturday night and I was babysitting with a friend but she was due back at half eleven or twelve."

Sinn Féin councillor Christopher Jackson said there has been a serious rise in attacks this month.

He said he has helped to rehouse four Catholic and mixed religion families since August 11.

A Catholic man and his Protestant wife and children fled their home in loyalist area after they were given 24 hours to leave, Mr Jackson said.

“I want to get the message out that the vast majority of people in the Waterside are disgusted by this and there's a lot of good work going on to bring the communities together. But we need people to step up to the mark so that these thugs have no hiding place."

PSNI chief inspector Paul McCracken said he was aware of “rumours” that the motivation for Saturday night's attack was sectarian.

“We will certainly explore this line of inquiry. However, I would stress that at this time there is no definitive evidence to suggest that this is the case," he said.

DUP councillor Drew Thompson, who is chairman of the city's policing partnership, said Saturday's attack could not be justified.

“The criminal gang that carried out the shooting have no concern for people living in the area and no matter what rationale is put forward for this attack it has no place in our society,” he said.

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