A north Belfast couple were tonight preparing to flee their home after a sectarian petrol bomb attack which they say could easily have killed their 18-day-old son.
The infant was lying beneath a window when a petrol bomb exploded against the glass.
The couple say they have put up with constant attacks by nationalist youths on their home on the sectarian interface, which continue despite the ’peace’ the North is supposed to be enjoying.
But now they say the birth of little Lewis means they have got to get out.
The 23-year-old father, who asked not to be identified, said: “We were about to go to bed when I saw this big orange flash at the side window and then there was a big bang.
“I knew it was a petrol bomb, I just grabbed the child and ran up the stairs to the back room when I rang the police.”
Attacks like that just before midnight last night on the house and on a neighbour in Twaddell Avenue happened every other week, he said.
“The windows have been reinforced because of the number of attacks but I was surprised the bomb didn’t come into the room.
“Thank God it didn’t because me and the child would have been burned to death.
“It was scary, my girlfriend’s nerves are wrecked.
“We are moving, we’ve had enough. I love this house, we’ve been here for five years but now we have the child its different, you can never relax for fear of what is going to happen next.
“I’m talking to the Housing Executive about getting somewhere else.”
There are CCTV cameras a short distance away because of the interfactional trouble, but he said they normally pointed up and down the Crumlin Road not down Twaddell Avenue.
People in the street complain attackers can see where the cameras are pointed and know they will not be filmed in the avenue.
Just three weeks ago, a couple of days before the baby’s birth, the house was the target of another such attack, and the night before the latest bombing the house next door had stones thrown at it.
Politicians on all sides condemned the petrol bombing – with especially harsh comments coming from Sinn Féin.
Party councillor Margaret McClenaghan said the attack was disgraceful and that it was lucky no one was injured.
“The fact remains that this attack could have led to deaths, including the death of an 18-day-old baby,” she said.
“Those who carried out this attack should recognise that this is the consequence of their actions.
“Sectarianism is a cancer that cuts across all of society. It thrives on tensions in interface areas.
“It is essential that we continue to work across and through these divisions and build upon the work of the community interface network.”
SDLP Assembly member Alban Maginness called on the community to rally around the victims and help the police investigation.
“Whether this was a sectarian attack or mindless hooliganism, it must be widely condemned by all right thinking people,” he said.
“Those responsible put lives at risk, including the life of a newborn baby.
“I am completely disgusted that in this day and age such attacks are still going on and my sympathies are with the victims. I urge the local community to show their disdain for such attacks by showing support for the family targeted.”
Democratic Unionist Party Assembly member Nelson McCausland said a large number of youths from the neighbouring Ardoyne area had launched the sectarian attacks in Twaddell Avenue.
The MLA said it was clear that the attack had been well planned as young people on bicycles had scouted the area before the crowd appeared.
“This is just the latest in a long series of attacks on these homes, attacks which have emanated from Ardoyne, and which have taken place over many years.
“I had hoped such sectarian attacks were a thing of the past but the events of the past few weeks show that this is not the case,” he added.