An attack on a family in Mayfield has forced them to leave a council house due to safety concerns, writes Liz Dunphy.
After six years on the housing list, the family, who are originally from Poland, have been forced to give up their much-wanted home after a gang of people ranging in age from teens to mid-40s, set a fire outside it and attacked the father of the family.
His daughter Roxanne, aged 20, spoke to the Evening Echo on behalf of the family who do not wish to have their last name published.
She said that her father had started to renovate the house in Lagan Grove but now they have moved everything back to a rental home in the city and are afraid to return to the Mayfield estate.
A fire was lit close to the family’s house by a group of people who gathered around it on Monday night.
The father of the family had left with his son, while his wife remained in the building. When he returned the fire was burning adjacent to the house, and the gang there allegedly verbally abused and threatened him, so he called the gardaí and fire brigade from a neighbour’s house.
“My mum was in the house the whole time alone…She saw the gang outside and the fire getting bigger and closer to the house. She was panicking in the house, she thought it would catch fire, she kept trying to call my father but he had forgotten his phone,” said Roxanne.
The gang dispersed when they heard the emergency service’s sirens approach, and after gardaí arrived and the fire was extinguished, her mother felt safe enough to leave the house.
However after the gardaí left, Roxanne’s father was again approached by a group who allegedly abused and attacked him while he was going to his car.
“He knocked on a few neighbours doors for help but they would not help him. He concentrated on staying on his feet because he knew that if they floored him they could kick him to death. My mum was screaming and luckily two neighbours, Catherine Coffey-O’Brien and Terri Newman came out and pulled my parents into their house. The gang kept screaming abuse at them from outside and throwing bottles at the house,” Roxanne said.
Neither Roxanne nor her nine-year-old brother were at the Mayfield estate at the time of the fire and the assault, but their mother was traumatised after the incident and is returning to Poland to try to recover.
Catherine Coffey-O’Brien and Terri Newman were the two residents who pulled the couple to safety.
“At 11.30pm he came to my door, ashen faced. It was like something out of a movie, there was a large fire bellowing at the side of his house,” said Ms Coffey-O’Brien.
“There were about 16 of them, including three girls, ranging from teens to adults.
“Later when he returned to the house, I saw him being hit with a closed fist, and his wife was trying to shield him and she was being hit too, we got them into our house. You couldn’t turn a blind eye to that, he could have been killed if he was left there. It only takes one belt in a certain part of the head.” she said.
“This group ran wild all over the place. When we opened our door later thinking the gaurds had arrived, the gang were still there and yelled insults at us,” Ms Coffey-O’Brien said. “At the end of the day, the vast majority of the people at Lagan Grove are decent people. The people involved should know what they did to drive this family out of here. There’s no excuse for this behaviour,” said Ms Coffey-O’Brien.
The issue, which was raised on the 96FM Opinion Line this week, followed concerns raised by locals to the Evening Echo about anti-social behaviour in the area in recent weeks.
Gardaí in Mayfield responded to a call about the fire in Lagan Grove between 11.30pm-12am on Monday night and they arrested a 45-year-old male for public order offences who is due before the courts.
Shortly after leaving the estate, gardaí were called back to the scene responding to a call about an assault.
The Polish man had been injured around his eye, which was red according to gardaí. They offered him medical attention.
Gardaí patrolled the area for a subsequent two hours pursuing the gang of youths and adults but no further arrests were made.
Mayfield Superintendent, Mick Comyns, said that there are many escape routes from Lagan Grove, and when a car approaches, people see it approaching and can disperse quickly.
This article first appeared in the Evening Echo.