A DEBATE on a Sinn Féin motion pledging support for the residents of a Belfast estate who were intimidated out of their homes prompted a war of words over events along the Fermanagh Border during the ‘Troubles’.

At the monthly meeting of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, Mid Tyrone representative Barry McNally proposed a motion calling on the local authority to acknowledge the recent statement by the six main party leaders in the aftermath of the intimidation of families from a shared housing development in Cantrell Close.

In this statement, the leaders pledged their support for citizens to live in a society without fear of intimidation, free from sectarianism and condemn all forms of sectarianism, intolerance and threats of violence.

Speaking on behalf of the DUP, Omagh Councillor Errol Thompson said that what happened in Cantrell Close was “absolutely wrong”, adding: “No one should seek to defend a situation where people have been forced from their homes because of their religion.”

He proposed an amendment to the motion, calling on the Council to condemn the campaign of “ethnic cleansing” waged along the County Fermanagh Border which forced many families from their homes.

Giving his backing to the amendment, the UUP’s Victor Warrington said that this had been happening in the Fermanagh Omagh Council area for many years.

He said: “Let us not forget the murder of the last Protestant shopkeeper in Rosslea, Douglas Deering who was murdered by the IRA in his shop, and Sylvia Crowe, a missionary worker murdered outside Rosslea.

“What about the countless families who were forced to leave their homes in many areas including around Newtownbutler, Garrison and many more, because of intimidation and fear?”

Mr. Warrington added: “People will recall when villages like Rosslea were accommodating to people from the Protestant and Unionist community, but sadly those from that community are no longer existent in such villages, throughout this council area.”

Later in the debate, Sinn Féin Councillor Brian McCaffrey said he needed to address a number of points raised by his fellow Erne East representative.

Mr. McCaffrey said that, during the ‘Troubles’, Border roads had been closed and permanent checkpoints erected which helped to isolate a “significant number” of the Nationalist community.

He said that there were 14 parades in the Rosslea ward, in an area where 85 per cent of the people are Nationalist and 15 per cent are Unionists.

Mr. McCaffrey said: “It is at the very least disingenuous in order to undermine this particular motion that Councillor Warrington comes forward with this representation of that village, because I certainly don’t recognise it as that.”

While both Unionist parties voted to support the amendment, it was defeated after failing to gain the support of Sinn Féin, the SDLP or the independents in the chamber.

The original motion was then passed, despite the opposition of both DUP and UUP members.