Attack on Jessy’s house in Antrim should be condemned by us all - The Irish News view

No right-thinking person would support men in dark clothing smashing up home of a disabled boy at 3am

Jessy Clark
Jessy Clark, a disabled child of 9 with his Great Grand Mother Margaret Hart and Pauline O'Loane Jessie has been issued with a death threat and told not to move into a new home in a mixed estate, the specially adapted bungalow was attacked on Sunday night. PICTURE: MAL MCCANN

It’s often said that how a society treats its most vulnerable is the measure of its humanity.

A little boy in a wheelchair with complex medical needs is just about as vulnerable as it comes.

And, yet, there are some who think the home that’s been specially modified to enable him to enjoy some semblance of a normal life is fair game to smash up.

Shock and condemnation have been swift since we reported the story of Jessy Clark, from Antrim, whose new bungalow was targeted by loyalists in a 3am attack in which windows were shattered and paint bombs hurled in the Reford Grove development in the town.

Jessy has spina bifida and other complex medical needs. He also has infinitely more bravery than the cowards who came in the dark of night to damage the home he was so looking forward to moving into.

Those who carried out this attack – which we’re reporting today has been blamed on the LVF - don’t, surely, speak for the people of Antrim for there will be plenty within that community who share the same anger and consternation over this incident as the rest of us.

Police said four people in dark clothing ran into Reford Grove and threw objects, smashing windows and causing paint damage to two properties. How courageous.

The property had been modified to feature a hoist and widened doorways to enable the nine-year-old to come and go in his wheelchair. It would be a happy home for him to thrive alongside his mother and two younger sisters.

Jessy’s great-grandmother spoke for most outraged people when she described those responsible as “thugs”. Pauline O’Loan told us: “They are pure uneducated cowards… I want this condemned, and those threats lifted.”

The new development opposite the Ballycraigy estate in Antrim – which was built to accommodate Protestant and Catholic families living as neighbours – hit the headlines when Union flags were put on lampposts and the kerbstones were painted red, white, and blue. Graffiti has also appeared on a nearby house declaring ‘local only’.

She went on to describe how the courageous boy is desperately needing to move into the property because he’s currently “sitting in a bed 24-7… trapped in one room”.

The pusillanimous attack in the early hours of Sunday marked a further escalation in troubling incidents in the area. Windows in a house in the nearby Chaine Court were also smashed with the words ‘locals only’ and crosshairs sprayed on boarding that was erected on the damaged property.

Flagstones have been daubed in red, white and blue and the flags of the Union and Northern Ireland have been hoisted at the development, which was designed to be a safe and shared mixed area for everyone to enjoy.

This period of the year is typically fraught with trouble and incident but all those with sway and influence should be using it to quell the tension on behalf of Jessy and all those like him who just want somewhere safe to live.