Tuesday the 2nd of March

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“We need a respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas.” Pope Francis, Let us Dream, December 2020

Catholic families leave Belfast homes after threats to their safety

Catholic families in a cross-community housing project in Belfast, Northern Ireland, have been forced to leave their homes after a sectarian threat, thought to be from Protestant paramilitaries.

The residents live in a new housing development that was part of a government-backed “shared communities” strategy. The movement was a response to the need for reconciliation in the region following the 1998 peace agreement. Last year, a report found that nearly 90 per cent of social housing in the region remains segregated along religious lines.

Catholic families from the development have presented themselves to the Northern Ireland Housing Executive as homeless; they said they were visited by police early on 27th September warning of a threat to them because of their religion.

The police reportedly told the families they had received intelligence warning that the Catholics were unwelcome in the area. The threat also said that if the residents did not leave the area, they faced violence.

In June, the area made headlines when the flags of a number of Protestant paramilitary factions were erected. The action was seen as part of a process of intimidation against Catholic families.

Picture: A Loyalist paramilitary mural in Belfast. (Paul Faith/PA Wire).