Security minister Shaun Woodward today pledged a major crackdown on the sectarian thugs attacking pensioners and childrens’ homes in north Belfast.
After the latest wave of petrol bombings, which were also thrown at police lines, Mr Woodward expressed his disgust at the unrelenting street violence.
His outrage was compounded by an earlier loyalist assault which left a three-month-old baby covered in blood and paint.
Mr Woodward said: “All these attacks are absolutely appalling. It needs a community response and it needs an effective police response.
“Police are working extremely hard to deal with this situation.
“We are going to crack down on it. We are determined that these attacks will not be a way of life.”
Days of sectarian violence at the bitterly divided Ardoyne interface showed no sign of relenting when the latest elderly victim was today treated for shock.
Four petrol bombs were thrown at the rear of the pensioner’s house in Alliance Avenue, occupied by the man and his wife, both in their 70s.
There was scorch damage to the brickwork and guttering.
Other properties in the street were also attacked.
Gangs of youths on both sides of the sectarian divide have been blamed for the trouble.
Earlier, three children, including three-month-old Lorcan Grew, were splattered with paint after a house in Cliftondene Gardens was targeted by loyalists.
The baby suffered leg cuts in the attack.
Stones and other missiles were also thrown at loyalist homes in Glenbryn and Twadell Avenue.
Police came under attack during two hours of rioting by two groups of up to 30 youths who clashed in the Brompton and Cranbook areas.
Their Land Rovers were also pelted with a range of missiles including golf balls, paint and petrol bombs.
On Tuesday night, 82-year-old cancer sufferer John Mussen’s home in the loyalist Hesketh Road was damaged by paint bombs.
Democratic Unionist Assembly member Nelson McCausland said the attack was deliberate and blatantly sectarian.
Paint bombs were also thrown at nationalist homes yesterday in Alliance Avenue and the Ardoyne Road.
Belfast Deputy Mayor Pat Convery said those responsible on both sides of the divide were sinking to new lows, targeting the elderly, the sick and mothers with babies.
“This is a worrying development and one that we have to ensure does not get a grip,” the SDLP councillor said.
“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. There is no other solution or way forward, and nobody in either community should deny them that protection or make it more difficult for the police to provide it.
“The voice of every community leader must be heard in condemnation, and heard now.”