Vulnerable peoples’ homes in Ardoyne are now more at risk after large steel gates were stolen from a community group this week. That’s the view of a leading community worker after thieves broke a padlock to gain entrance to the back yard of the Ardoyne Association’s offices on Enta Drive and stole six of the alley gates valued at around £6,000 in total.

The stolen items had been used as alley gates in the streets running adjacent to Etna Drive but were removed last year when Belfast City Council installed their own alley gates.

The Ardoyne Association were intending to resize the old gates to use in alleys in the Jamaica/Havana area of Ardoyne.

Elaine Burns from the Association said it is the community who will suffer as a result.

“People in the Havana/Jamaica area - these people are being tortured all the time, it is a real hotspot and these gates were supposed to bring a sense of safety and community,” she said. “It’s the people of this district who they are stealing from because people paid £10 per household and helped get the pilot alley gate scheme up and running. If whoever done this is from the community they have stolen from their own neighbours. They have now made vulnerable peoples’ lives even more vulnerable because people are frightened. They wanted the entries secured and they wanted to feel safe in their homes.”

She urged anyone with any information to contact either the Association or the police.

Local Sinn Féin councillor Gerard McCabe said the culprits were “anti-community”.

“Let’s make this abundantly clear - these anti-community people have robbed this community of valuable material that was going to be used again. I would appeal to anyone who saw anything to contact the PSNI.”

Police confirmed they received a report that six gates were stolen from the premises sometime between Friday 10 February and Tuesday 15 February.