Belfast Telegraph

Car set on fire in north Belfast near New Lodge flats

A car was set on fire in north Belfast on Tuesday night near a bonfire beside the New Lodge flats.

North Queen Street was closed to traffic but police said it has reopened and is now "passable with care".

Extra patrols have been put in place across Belfast after the removal of wood from a bonfire site in the Markets area near the city centre by Belfast City Council-hired contractors triggered disorder on Monday.

A derelict credit union and cars were set alight during the violent scenes which saw cars belonging to commuters set alight and officers targeted by a petrol bomb, bricks and bottles.

PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton said: "These were largely young people involved in causing destruction and mayhem in their own communities.

"There is absolutely no excuse, no justification for the burning of cars and the causing of destruction in people's own communities - it just doesn't make sense at any level."

Mr Hamilton said children as young as 12 were involved and that arrests would follow.

"People engaged in this are responsible for their actions but parents have a responsibility too in all of this", he said.

Bonfires were lit in some nationalist areas on Tuesday night to mark the anniversary of the introduction of the controversial state policy of internment without trial.

Tensions have been raised in some loyalist and nationalist areas in Belfast this summer amid efforts by the council to take action against a number of unregulated fires.

Sinn Fein's Stormont leader Michelle O'Neill has denied her party's drive within the council to take action against dangerous bonfires - a proposal to allow the seizure of material was cleared last week - had stirred tensions among the young people who build them.

"The community don't want to see that action and it is the action of a small number of people," she said.

"It is not something the community want to be involved with, it is not something that is a wider problem.

"I believe that it is time for strong political leadership. Sinn Fein have not been found wanting in that regard, particularly in the last number of days.

"Tackling these issues is a policing issue on one hand, but it is also a political problem on the other hand."

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