Republicans not behind attacks on cars says MP
Sinn Féin MP Francie Molloy has said republicans are not responsible for attacks on cars in a loyalist estate in Cookstown.
Residents of Stewart Avenue and Cooke Crescent say they are living in fear of attacks after eight parked cars were recently damaged.They told the Mail that the attack was “part of an ongoing onslaught against the Protestant community” at the bottom end of the town.They have called on the PSNI to state publicly that the incident at Stewart Avenue and nearby Cooke Crescent was sectarian.Householders have also asked for a meeting with police to discuss the situation.But Mr Molloy, and Councillor John McNamee, said they would be following up reports of the incidents in which cars were damaged on the estate.One resident whose elderly father’s car was damaged, claimed the police know the identity of the culprits.“This is the last Protestant estate in this area and republicans are bent on putting us out,” said the householder, who asked not to be named.“It’s actually a mixed estate with a few foreign nationals living here alongside a mostly elderly Protestant community,” he added.“There would have been a UVF presence here about 30 years ago but that has all gone.”He claimed people from the estate have been assaulted and threatened and had their property damaged in recent years.Another resident whose car was damaged in the incident said she would have to pay for it out of her own pocket.“I don’t have the money to replace a wing mirror,” she went on. “We go to bed at night and we don’t know what destruction we’re going to wake up to. “I lived here during the Troubles and I think it’s worse now.“We want the police to get the people responsible for this so that we can get compensated.”Mr Molloy said: “I will be raising these allegations with the local police to get more detail on what exactly happened but let me be clear - this type of behaviour cannot and should not be tolerated in any area. The actions are clearly anti-social and those who carried out the attacks on the vehicles represent no one but themselves,” he said.“I have been made aware that residents within those estates are of the view that this is down to republicans attempting to intimidate them out of the area. I will state very clearly that this is not the case. Republicans are not responsible for this and there is absolutely no justification for these actions to be inflicted on any community.“For my part, I am happy to meet with residents at any time to listen to their concerns and to set out our position in regards to any such incident. I will this week be in contact with the PSNI to discuss the incident and any other incidents that have occurred in the area.”DUP MLA for the area Keith Buchanan said he met with the PSNI following the vandalism and urged anyone with information to pass it on to the police so that those responsible can be apprehended.“A further meeting is planned to discuss the situation and Keith has asked for a full analysis and breakdown of similar events in the area,” he said.Ulster Unionist Councillor Trevor Wilson called on the community to help the police find those responsible.“This was a despicable action against mainly elderly residents and it must not be allowed to happen again,” he said.The British Truth Forum said in a statement that they believed the attack on the cars was “a clear attempt to heighten tensions.”They pointed the finger of blame at republicans accusing them of trying to pursuing “an anti-British agenda against the minority community at that end of the town. It is another attempt at their ethnic cleansing tactic of the past.” A PSNI spokesperson said enquiries are still on going and house to house enquiries have taken place.