“It is a small element who were involved..”

An interesting convergence of stories in west Belfast where we had been told previously that “volunteers” had been “working in their communities on the streets” and “patrolling” Belfast neighbourhoods. A matter of days after Fr Aidan Troy highlighted a “suspected INLA extortion campaign” three men were reported to have been arrested in Poleglass and UTV noted that “Police say community representatives in the area had also reported a number of extortion attempts in recent days.” Meanwhile the Irish News front-page today carries a report of “community worker” Martin Kelly whose home was attacked by up to 40 people, his son assaulted, and his family “ordered [] to leave the district within 24 hours”. According to a BBC report [not included in their online version which adds, “One man who was arrested has been released on police bail”] this happened after an Andersonstown News article was printed about the St James Community Watch of which Mr Kelly is a member – Mark has noted that particular story here, “Who is watching the Community Watch?”. Adds My mistake, the BBC report didn’t refer to that previous article. It actually referred to the reaction when the Andersonstown News reported this incident. The background detail would seem to be relevant though. From the Irish News [subs for now]

The 48-year-old ran from work to his home at St James’ Road after a panicked phone call from his wife who told him that a gang had gathered outside and were chanting about burning the house down.

Mr Kelly is also quoted in the report

“This is a personal vendetta against me because every weekend I am out on the streets trying to keep the area safe.”

And from Sinn Féin councillor Marie Moore

“It is a small element who were involved in this antisocial behaviour and I would ask the community to stand by their own area and to give support to Martin and his family.”