Intimidation by paramilitaries leaves more than 400 people homeless in year

There were been calls for police to investigate the appearance of a new paramilitary mural that has appeared in the Glenfield estate in Carrickfergus, Co Antrim in February 2015
Andrew Madden

PARAMILITARY intimidation has left more than 400 people homeless in the last year. 

Almost 20 years after the Good Friday Agreement, loyalist and republican paramilitaries continue to threaten people from their homes.

Figures show that in 2015/16, 433 people presented themselves to the Housing Executive as homeless because of paramilitary threat.

Of those, 325 cases were accepted by the housing body as being sufficiently serious enough to require permanent relocation.

And despite continued political efforts to remove paramilitary structures from Northern Ireland, loyalist and republican intimidation case have increased significantly in the last five yeas.

In 2011/12, the number of people deemed ‘full duty applicants’ – those accepted by the Housing Executive as being under genuine threat – was 212. Since then, the figure has jumped by more than 50 percent cent to 325.

Last month homeless teenager Nathan Richie died after falling from a bridge over the Westlink in Belfast.

The 19-year-old, who was originally from Bangor, had been forced out of his home because of intimidation by the UDA over drug debts.

A year ago the DUP and Sinn Féin signed the Fresh Start Agreement which included a commitment to work towards the disbandment of republican and loyalist paramilitaries.

The Green Party’s Clare Bailey said the figures showed a worrying trend that requires immediate action.

"These figures show that intimidation cause still an ongoing issue in Northern Ireland, on a range of grounds," she said.

"I would encourage anyone experiencing intimidation in any of these grounds to report to the police and housing executive to seek urgent support.”

The Department for Communities (DfC) said it is planning to invest £35 million into homelessness services this year.

The construction of 1600 units of social housing is also set to break ground in the coming months, with the aim of building 9,600 units by 2021.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the DfC, which is responsible for housing, said they are committed to tackling the issue.

"The department utterly condemns all forms of intimidation."

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