Northern Ireland news

East Belfast loyalists receive threats as tensions rise

Four Catholic families at the Cantrell Close shared housing development received threats last week

TWO east Belfast loyalists have been warned by police they are under threat, amid ongoing tensions in the area following the intimidation of a number of Catholic families.

The community workers are linked to the East Belfast Community Initiative, a group that claims to mediate on behalf of loyalists linked to the east Belfast UVF and includes former flag protester Jamie Bryson as a spokesman.

It said the men, who are both pensioners, were visited by police on Tuesday and warned of a threat to their lives.

Last week four Catholic families were forced to flee their homes in a shared housing development at Cantrell Close off Belfast's Ravenhill Road.

Sinn Féin blamed the east Belfast UVF and the PSNI said they are investigating a paramilitary link, although senior loyalists linked to the UVF have denied responsibility.

On Monday a statement was released on behalf of the leaders of the DUP, Sinn Féin, SDLP, UUP, Alliance and Green Party condemning sectarianism and the threats to residents.

The East Belfast Community Initiative said yesterday it believed the threats against loyalists were a result of "misplaced retaliation".

"It is disgraceful that two elderly community workers have been threatened by republicans. This is the latest attempt to heighten tensions in this area," it said.

"This comes after false allegations linked the east Belfast UVF to a threat against Catholic families."

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