Northern Ireland

Newtownabbey graffiti 'bid to deter Protestants' from Felden area

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Media captionThe graffiti appeared close to the Felden housing development, which is intended to be a mixed area

Unionists in Newtownabbey have said there appears to be a campaign to deter Protestants from applying for places in a new social housing development.

Threatening and sectarian graffiti has been daubed on a wall close to the Felden development on the Mill Road.

Clanmill Housing Association is building 97 homes on the site for mixed social housing.

However, graffiti has appeared threatening Protestants not to move in to the development.

The graffiti includes the words "No prods in Felden", "Bombed out, burned out and shot" as well as a threat against a named member of staff at Clanmill Housing Association.

It has now been painted over.

The mayor of Newtownabbey, Thomas Hogg of the DUP, said it was the third incident in the area since July.

"There is clearly a concerted campaign aimed at deterring any unionists or Protestants from applying for these new social homes which will be allocated shortly," he said.

"There was graffiti erected at the entrance wall to Felden earlier in July and last week there were Irish tricolours erected, solely outside this development but not elsewhere in the immediate area which unfortunately sends out a very clear message.

"There are families who had been considering Felden and unfortunately some of them are saying to me they just don't fell safe to move into the area."

Image caption The graffiti has since been painted over

Ulster Unionist Andy Allen said he was disgusted by the graffiti.

"This graffiti incident is the latest in a number of incidents which are clearly designed to intimidate Protestants who may be thinking of applying for housing in the new development," he said.

"Clearly, in spite of fine words of a shared future and the noble intention of creating an area of shared housing, there are elements within the nationalist and republican community who are not prepared to share the Felden housing site with anyone from a Protestant or unionist community background."

Sinn Féin councillor Michael Goodman said: "We are opposed to this kind of intimidation and these threats.

"The allocation should be based on the housing waiting list whether those people are Catholics, Protestants, black, white, yellow, whatever."

'Deeply concerned'

In a statement, Clanmill Housing Association said: "We are deeply concerned that graffiti has appeared in the area with the intention of intimidating people who need a home and we would urge anyone with information about this to report it to the police.

"We are grateful to people in the local area who are continuing to work with us to make this scheme a success for everyone."

Police have appealed for anyone with any information about the graffiti to contact them.