Two single mothers forced out of their homes in north Belfast, one whom fled with her six-month old daughter from an arson attack, have spoken for the first time about their ordeal.
“Heartless, horrible people, I don’t understand why they did it. I refuse to carry bitterness for it because it’s only harming me further. I would never like to see anybody in this position again.”
The women have given their firsthand accounts of being forced to flee their own homes in scenes that shocked many who thought intimidation such as this was a thing of the past.
No one else has spoken about the attacks and intimidation of several families in Ballysillan until now.
Just over two months on, the mothers, who did not want to be identified, only now feel up to speaking about what happened and how their lives have been literally been turned upside down through no fault of their own.
Back in August the women and several other families packed up what they could and moved out of the smart sought-after development in Ballysillan. The catalyst was a campaign of intimidation with five homes attacked in one week.
One of them told UTV: “My windows were clashed, the noise and the fear, unbelievable.”
“Fire, burnt car, smashing windows, while I was in bed. Having to get out of the house as quick as possible because the car was on fire and I didn’t know whether the car was going to explode and I had to get my children out the house as quick as possible because I did for fear for their lives.”
It is believed that loyalist paramilitaries may have been behind the attacks, but police have not commented on that.
With an investigation into its ninth week, there has been no update on the motive but police say they are doing everything in their power to bring those responsible before the courts.
Meanwhile, these women are still terrified and traumatised by their ordeal.
They are still living in emergency accommodation waiting for suitable new homes.
“I remember going back up to pack the furniture up for storage and seeing the house tinned up and it was horrific. I can’t describe how it felt to walk up to the home I had lied in for two and a half years and it was tinned up like something from Beirut – it’s just something that doesn’t happen anymore.”