THE Alliance Party has called on public figures to stop blaming the victims in a block of Belfast apartments for the campaign of hatred against Catholics designed to drive them out of Sandy Row’s Whitehall Square.
Alliance’s South Belfast representative, Councillor Geraldine Rice said: “What we need from parties and churches are words and actions that try to defuse the situation, instead of pander to the paramilitary paranoia that is driving this campaign.
“Both a leading local politician and a minister have been blaming the victims for this sectarian campaign of hatred, which comes hot on the heels of moves to expel ethnic minorities from the area. In fact, the same minister provided excuses for why the racist attacks were happening.
“Even if an Irish flag was flown from the apartments – and this seems to be pure hearsay at the moment – it can only rank as a token protest against the dozens of terrorist flags and graffiti surrounding the development. It certainly doesn’t justify the intimidation that people have been suffering almost from the day these apartments were sold.
“Instead of finding scapegoats for the deprivation in south Belfast, it’s time for leaders to start to take greater personal responsibility and look at the role of the paramilitaries in bringing their area to its knees. If ordinary people are not benefiting from peace, they must look at the negative role being played by the paramilitaries in their locality.
“Why would anyone invest and provide jobs in an area where intimidation and the malign influence of paramilitaries is so blatantly obvious?”