A West Belfast man caring for his 87-year-old mother, who suffers from dementia, has received a chilling death threat.
Cavendish Street man Gerard O’Neill was left deeply shocked after sinister placards were placed on his vehicle on Monday morning, warning him to “look under your car”.
Gerard’s car was scratched by the heartless thugs and the placards also made reference – wrongly – to him being in receipt of DLA. Several placards were left on and around the car, all with the same message.
There’s a disabled parking bay outside the O’Neill home that’s there to enable easy access for Gerard as primary carer for his mum Josephine and for a range of health professionals arriving at the house daily to treat her.
“I couldn’t believe it when I came out with the wheelie bins on Monday morning,” Gerard told the Andersonstown News. “One of the signs was attached to the window wiper and when the light came up I could see that all along one side of the car had been scored.
“I want to make it clear through the Andersonstown News that no-one in this house gets DLA. That car was bought by myself and we have a blue badge on it which was allocated to my mother and helps us get parking spaces at the hospital. It’s our lifeline, especially for my mother.
“We have carers that come to the house twice a day, in the morning and at night. They need to be able to park outside the house and that’s why there’s a disabled space there. The blue badge and the disabled bay are nothing to do with me – they’re for my mother.”
Gerard recently moved back to West Belfast with his family from Westport, County Mayo, to look after his mother as her health declined. The O’Neill family have lived in Cavendish Street for 47 years.
“We are a very well respected republican and community family in the area and we very much keep ourselves to ourselves. I help out in the community on a voluntary basis, doing gardening for Gaelscoil na bhFál, and my children are at school. Our nine-year-old daughter is very shaken up by what happened. We just want to know why our family has been targeted like this. It’s really upsetting and needs to be shown up as it could happen to someone else.”
Gerard said he just wants to be left in peace to look after his mother and his young family.
“What happens if it is the window next?” he asked. “My mother sleeps downstairs in the front room as it is easier for her and the last thing we need is something coming through the window.”
Local Sinn Féin Councillor Tom Hartley hit out angrily at those behind the attack.
“What happened in this street was utterly disgraceful,” he said. “Everyone has the right to live in peace and harmony with their neighbours and no family should ever have to be subjected to behaviour that leads to vandalism of their property.”
A spokesperson for the PSNI said: “Police in Grosvenor Road received a report on the morning of Monday, February 11 that a car which was parked in the Cavendish Street area of Belfast had been scratched and an abusive note had been put on the car some time overnight.
“Police would ask anyone who has any information to contact them at Grosvenor Road on 0845 600 8000. Or, if someone would prefer to provide information without giving their details, they can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers and speak to them anonymously on 0800 555 111.”