Northern Ireland

Family of boy targeted in sectarian attack given assurances he can move into new home

LVF-linked gang has carried out sectarian and race-hate attacks in recent weeks

Jessy Clark
Jessy Clark and his great grand mothers Margaret Hart and Pauline O'Loan

The family of a nine-year-old boy whose specially built home was targeted by loyalists in a sectarian attack say they have been given assurances they can now move into the property.

The family of Jessy Clark hit out after his home was one of two attacked in Antrim last weekend.

Windows were smashed and paint bombs thrown at the properties at Reford Grove in the early hours of Sunday.

One of the houses was specially built for Jessy Clark, who suffers from spina bifida and has a range of other complex medical needs.

The youngster, who uses a wheelchair, was due to move into the specially adapted house with his mother and young sisters, aged seven and two.

There was controversy last week after it emerged that union and ‘Ulster’ flags had been put at the new mixed development, which is off the Belfast Road, and that kerb stones had been painted red, white and blue.

Jessy’s great grandmothers Pauline O’Loan and Margaret Hart later hit out at those behind the attack.

Earlier this week, Ms Hart described the bungalow as Jessy’s “forever home” while Ms O’Loan said those behind the attack were “heartless” and called for any threat to be lifted.

Ms O’Loan said her family was recently contacted by a local community group, Ballycraigy Environmental Development Association, who gave assurances that Jessy can move into his new home.

“BEDA is the only group that has come forward to help us and they said that we would have no issues from the people of Ballycraigy,” she said.

“We want to thank that group.

“I have faith in the community, we are happy because we have the community behind us now.”

A gang linked to the LVF has been responsible for a spate of sectarian and racist attacks in the Ballycraigy area over recent weeks.

Racist attack
Threatening posters in the Ballycraigy area of Antrim

Threatening posters and graffiti have also appeared in the town warning that properties are for “locals”.

It is understood the hate campaign is part of an attempt to drive foreign workers from the area in order to force the reallocation of their homes to local people.

One African family forced to leave their home have said they will not return to the area.

A series of attacks came amid rising tensions in Antrim in the run-up to the Twelfth.

In recent days union, ‘Ulster’ and other flags were put up close to St Comgall’s Catholic Church, which is within view of the town’s PSNI station.