DEATH threats have forced three families out of the Weaver’s Grange estate in Newtownards over the last few weeks.

In what is being linked to the drug gang feud which rocked the estate and town last year, the latest threat against a family with children was issued on Saturday.

And local councillor Stephen Irvine has also revealed he has received threats while delivering food parcels over Christmas in the estate.

The death threats began on December 20 and followed a number of evictions of tenants from the estate for anti-social behaviour, by Clanmil Housing Association.

The local housing body had to order the evictions after a small number of tenants in the estate continued to keep tensions high despite the feud coming to an end.

Tangible sides of the internecine fighting remain visible within the estate, including damage from arson attacks, a car ramming and boarded up windows bearing graffiti warnings.

Tenants are said to be too frightened to enlist outside tradespeople to carry out the repairs required to return the area to normal. 

Mr Irvine said the death threats are being issued against ‘totally innocent’ people.

“These three families have been intimidated and have been issued with death threats since December 20,” he said. “These are ordinary people with children. 

“These are totally innocent people who have nothing to do with anything. They are just people who have worked with the community and the ones who have organised community events like fun days and things like that for the children.

He said the latest threat was issued against a household last Saturday.

“They were given so many hours to leave Weaver’s Grange, and that was at 11pm when they got the threat,” he said.

Mr Irvine revealed that he too received a threat when he went to deliver food parcels to a number of households in the estate last month. 

Wishing to do so out of the public spotlight in the run-up to Christmas, Mr Irvine said he was being watched by someone with criminal intent.

“I went into the estate on December 20 to deliver food parcels that I got from the Warehouse foodbank, and I got a phone call from Alternatives (a restorative justice body) saying I’d was being told to get the f**k out of the area.

“I wasn’t going to, but Alternatives said that I should go, that maybe they were going to burn out my car or something,” he said.

Mr Irvine said he telephoned police who offered to chaperone him during the parcel deliveries, but he declined and left the area.

He reached out to the community to enlist help to distribute them, and the local Elim church stepped in to complete the job. 

Mr Irvine admitted he was ‘angry’ about the latest incidents and stressed that the people intimidated out of the area ‘have no involvement with any of this feud’. 

“It’s all boiling down to one person who has been evicted and is still frequently in the area.”

“People are living in fear. They are scared of bringing in outside workmen to repair the damage to the houses, they’re afraid to engage with Clanmill housing, and afraid to engage with local community policing in case someone sees them and they become the next target,” he continued.

“I have met with the PSNI and senior members of Clanmil to try to work on things from a legal perspective, like enhancing patrols etc, while Clanmil have been working with their legal teams.” 

Mr Irvine highlighted the issue in light of the number of people awaiting a home on already overstretched social housing lists. 

More importantly, he said, is the effect on the younger generation of living in an atmosphere of living with death threats and intimidation.

“There has to be an adverse effect on your children living in this area with all this activity,” he said.


Clanmil says safety is top priority – 

THE Clanmil Housing Association said the safety of its tenants is its top priority.

A statement from the social housing body said its team is doing all it can to provide support and deliver a normal repairs service.

Our priority is the safety and wellbeing of the people living in our homes at Weavers Grange and we have been working with the PSNI, NI Housing Executive and Ards and North Down Council as well as the local community and political representatives to develop a safe and secure neighbourhood,” said the statement.

“Clanmil has taken appropriate action when incidents of antisocial behaviour have been reported to us, and where we have been able to gather sufficient evidence.

“Any cases of vandalism on Clanmil properties are reported to PSNI for investigation. The NI Housing Executive has statutory responsibility for housing in Northern Ireland and is responsible for assessing eligibility for social housing.

“Everyone should be allowed to live in peace and feel safe in their homes and we will continue to work with our partners to achieve this,” said the statement.

The PSNI said it does not discuss the security of individuals but will act if officers receive information that a person’s life may be at risk.

“We never ignore anything which may put an individual at risk. No inference should be drawn from this,” said a police spokesman.

He confirmed that police received a report of graffiti daubed on a wall in the Weaver’s Grange area of Newtownards on Tuesday and enquiries are ongoing to establish the circumstances.

“At this stage we cannot rule out a link to the ongoing feud in the area,” he said.