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Ejected party gatecrashers attack Protestant enclave

Andrea McKernon newsdesk@irishnews.com

A MOB of up to 100 youths who went on the rampage attacking homes in a Protestant enclave in west Belfast, had earlier tried to gatecrash a house party.

Police are investigating claims that the crowd descended on the Brooke area - adjacent to the Suffolk estate - after an invite to a house party went 'viral' on the internet.

It is believed they were turned away from the party at around 9.30pm on Friday.

Half an hour later cars and homes were attacked in the Ringford Park area near the interface between Suffolk Road and Black's Road.

The window of a house was smashed and four vehicles were damaged.

The attack comes weeks after residents complained they had been left to "fend for themselves" against sectarian attack because politicians fail to represent them.

Police said yesterday they were treating the incident as a hate crime. No arrests have been made.

A PSNI spokesman said officers had been called out to Brooke Drive half an hour before the attacks after receiving reports that a house party was "out of control".

"A number of youths moved from the party into the street and there were reports of scuffles between the youths," a spokesman said.

"It was reported that there were between 50 to 100 youths in the area. No offences were noted by police in regard to this incident."

Police sources have said they are investigating claims that the crowd had turned up for a party after hearing about it on the internet but were turned away.

Sean Conlon, whose home was attacked, said he was watching television with his partner when they heard a window smash and saw two sets of youths outside.

"It appears that a crowd had come from the Stewartstown Road end and from the Black's Road end into the estate and just started - for no reason other than I would take purely sectarian reasons - attacking cars." Mr Conlon said.

"The numbers of them. You are used to people walking by the odd Saturday night and throwing bricks or throwing bottles but fact that there was so many of them this time was extremely worrying."

Resident Ruth Parkinson said her car was damaged by men wielding hurley sticks.

DUP councillor Ruth Patterson described the incident as a "very unprovoked, sectarian hate attack on the people of Suffolk".

UDA leader Jackie McDonald, who visited those caught up in the trouble, said: "I don't know what kind of party to go to armed with hurley sticks and carrying rucksacks full of bricks."

Both Sinn Fein and the SDLP condemned the attack.

Sinn Fein councillor Matt Garrett said: "There are people working hard at the Blacks Road/Lenadoon/ Suffolk interface to make sure that residents can get on with their lives free from this type of behaviour.

"It is not representative of the people that live in the area and I would say a lot of those involved are from outside the area."

SDLP MLA Alex Attwood described the attack as "appalling" and said those responsible "must face the full rigours of the law".

n DAMAGE: Jackie McDonald and Jim Smith from (UPRG) inspect a damaged car in Ringford Park in Suffolk

PICTURE: Colm Lenaghan

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