Northern Ireland

Christmas presents stolen from north Belfast charity

Chirstmas present graphic
Image caption The stolen Christmas presents were due to be given to a group of disabled children

Christmas presents, which were to be given to severely disabled children at their festive party next week, have been stolen from a local charity.

The gifts were taken from the 174 Trust at Duncairn Avenue in the early hours of Sunday morning.

A wheelchair valued at £600 and specially adapted computer equipment were also stolen.

It is the second break-in in less than a week and the sixth in two months.

In September services were put on hold after an arson attack, and since then the building has been subject to stone throwing and attempted robberies.

However, last weekend's break-in marks a new low for the project, according to the Trust.

Disability Co-ordinator, Linda Duffy said: "For the 75 children who use the Trust, this is the only social interaction they get besides school.

"These children go to special schools and they go home. They can't go out and play like other children. The 174 is all these children have and the thieves are destroying it for them. I hope disability never comes to their door."

'Abuse'

Ms Duffy said she has tried to talk to the people behind the anti-social behaviour but her attempts failed.

She added: "I wish they would come up with me and meet these children and see the type of children are affecting. This is all these children have.

"I went out and spoke to them before and told them that it is young disabled children, but was just met with a barrage of abuse."

Sinn Fein's Danny Lavery said he was "utterly disgusted" at the break-in and appealed for anyone offered stolen toys not to take up the offer.

"To steal Christmas presents that were gathered for these disabled children at this community centre beggars belief," he said.

"I am appealing to anyone that has any knowledge of this break in to come forward.

"There's little point appealing to the thieves but if anyone is offered stolen toys it is not too late to rescue Christmas for these children."