Catholic families have moved into houses vacated by Protestants and are now squatting in south Belfast.

About 50 Catholic families are squatting in houses on the Suffolk Estate in south Belfast. The houses owned by the Northern Ireland Housing Executive were abandoned by Protestants following sectarian trouble in the area. The unoccupied houses were subsequently bricked up by the British Army.

Many of the houses occupied by the Catholic families were severely damaged by their former Protestant occupants, most of them squatters themselves. These include houses in Horn Drive.

There are reports of a further six Protestant families leaving the estate over the past few days. This population movement means Stewartstown Road separates the Protestant and Catholic residents of the estate.

Most of the incoming families have come from other Catholic estates in Belfast, while others have come from Protestant areas such as Newtownabbey and Newtownards.

Security forces suspect the influx of Catholics to the area is organised. A woman who moved to the Suffolk Estate from the Falls area of Belfast disputes this belief. She thinks it is better to see the houses lived in and wants to see them repaired. She believes the people who damaged the houses originally could do the same again where they have been re-housed.

The woman is aware that she has moved to an area considered troubled but she feels by now the tension has died out.

It's a sad thing to say that everything’s been broken up into a sectarian level but that’s the way it is and it’s a fact of life.

The Northern Ireland Housing Executive is investigating where the families squatting on the Suffolk Estate came from and what action to take.

This RTÉ News report was recorded in July 1976 but was not transmitted at the time.