Belfast Telegraph

Another day of disruption and the only loser is sport

By Lindsay Fergus

Politicians have said the biggest loser following Saturday's violence outside Seaview was sport.

Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Theresa Villiers, shared fans' disappointment that the Crusaders v Cliftonville match was called off due to a loyalist protest at the ground.

She said: "It is regrettable that an afternoon of sport was ruined by violent protests. Such behaviour achieved nothing except upset and disruption for fans and local residents who were looking forward to the game."

Sports Minister Caral Ni Chuilin said: "It is disappointing when a football game is abandoned, particularly so when it is for reasons totally unconnected with sport.

"The flag protest which forced the cancellation of this match has nothing to do with football."

Although the DUP has expressed its regret at the day's events, it has also accused police of heavy handed tactics after claiming one of its local councillors was assaulted.

North Belfast representatives Nigel Dodds MP and Nelson McCausland MLA said: "A lot of work had gone on between the two clubs, fans' representatives, local residents and the police in order to allow the match to go ahead in a peaceful atmosphere.

"Unfortunately events have disrupted this good work and spoiled what should have been simply a great top-of-the-table match for football supporters to enjoy. Football is the biggest loser today."

The DUP, however, will be making a complaint to the PSNI after alleging one of its councillors, Guy Spence, was attacked by police.

The party claims to have video evidence of police acting aggressively towards Mr Spence and of him being struck by police.

Mr Spence said: "I was present throughout the afternoon on the Shore Road in order to try to ensure that there was no trouble and that things would remain as calm as possible.

"When police were pushing people back I was struck by a police baton as I tried to lift a lady, who had fallen, back onto her feet.

"I was also struck by one police officer as I tried to speak to the police inspector after the arrest of a local community worker."

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