The child’s mother had run out into the garden of her home in north Belfast to plead with the four-man loyalist gang that had run into the area. Ignoring her, they threw several paint bombs at the house.
In total, three children, including the 13-week-old baby, were showered with paint and glass during the attack. A petrol bomb was also thrown, setting fire to the same family’s hall carpet. They are leaving their home.
The police later discovered a crate of unused paint bombs left by the gang when they ran off.
The SDLP deputy mayor of Belfast, Pat Convery, condemned the attack. “The criminals who carried this out, clearly had no fear of being seen or apprehended,” he said.
“Within the last 24 hours, our bigots on both sides have sunk to new lows, attacking the elderly, the ill and small babies. This is a worrying development and one that we have to ensure does not get a grip.
“Murder cannot be far away unless we put a stop to it now. The time for selective condemnation and political point-scoring must be past. Attacks on both sides are escalating and people in both communities now need better police protection,” he said.
He was speaking after an elderly Protestant man was attacked in his home on the Ardoyne/Glenbryn interface, near where the Holy Cross school blockade took place four years ago.
The elderly man was traumatized after youths threw paint bombs into his living room, causing the SDLP’s Alban Maginness to call on parents to ensure they knew where their children were at night.
The police say that children as young as six were behind some of the nightly violence in north Belfast and there were claims of “recreational rioting” that has little, or nothing, to do with political motivation.
Maginness said the “nightly stand-off ritual” at Ardoyne must be brought to a halt before anyone is seriously injured or worse. “We have a ridiculous situation, where two communities are being dictated to by bored children and drunken teenagers,” he said.
He added: “It is time for each community to confront its own rioters instead of whining about the other side starting it.
“If it is true that children as young as six are rioting, then their parents are responsible and they can’t point the finger anywhere else. Throwing stones at your neighbors is wrong and parents should be teaching children that it is wrong, no matter who started it”, he said.
This prompted Sinn Fein assembly member for the same area, Kathy Stanton, to accuse Maginness of being “totally out of touch.” She said his claims were “contemptible” and compared them to what she called the “disgraceful” comments made by previously by the deputy chief constable, Paul Leighton, on sectarian attacks in Ahoghill, Co. Antrim.
Leighton had caused outrage when he suggested some of the attacks there were because people were “not getting on with each other” as opposed to being carried out by the UDA and motivated by sectarian hate.
Stanton said that Maginness had ignored the involvement of loyalist paramilitaries in much of the violence. “These attacks are not taking place by bored kids”, she said, “they are orchestrated to provoke.”
Accepting that some nationalists had been provoked into retaliation, she added that community and political representatives on the ground had met with some success sought to limit further trouble.
In another attack, this time in Co. Antrim on the same night, flames burst through the home of a Catholic family after a petrol-bomb attack, causing extensive damage.
It burned furnishings, destroying cupboards and work tops, cracking windows and melting light fittings in the Dervock home. “Taigs out” was also daubed on an outside wall.