Extra police drafted in after ‘sectarian attacks’
Extra police resources are to be deployed at the weekends at a north Belfast sectarian hot spot after a series of stone-throwing attacks.
At about 7.45pm on Sunday, police received a report of stones being thrown at Bray Court, near Ardoyne. Nationalist residents claimed Mass-goers’ cars were attacked with stones while unionists say the trouble was caused entirely by nationalist youths.
Stones were thrown at police responding to the incident, breaking the windows of two police vehicles.
The window of a car, belonging to a member of the public, which was parked nearby at Crumlin Road was also damaged.
A 10-year-old boy was arrested. He was released pending enquiries.
A DUP delegation met on Monday with PSNI Area Commander Chief Inspector Andrew Freeburn in relation to the attacks.
Police confirmed that on this occasion nationalist youths were responsible. However over the last five weeks disturbances in the general area have involved both groups of young people.
Chief Inspector Freeburn said that his officers were taking these incidents extremely seriously and have stepped up patrols in the area in order to bring this type of reckless behaviour to an end and to identify those responsible.
“I would ask that those involved in this behaviour stop immediately as it is totally unwelcome and unacceptable,” he said. “Groups of youths, some very young, are engaging in stone throwing, attacking cars, and ultimately causing disruption to the communities that they live in. They risk not just injuring themselves but causing misery to the vast majority of the people in north Belfast who just want to live in peace.”
In the last three months police have identified 27 youths involved in incidents of criminal damage, riotous behaviour and assaults in the area of Oldpark Road, a number of whom are being reported to the Public Prosecution Service.
Speaking following the meeting, DUP Councillor William Humphrey said: “The police made clear that the trouble on Sunday evening was entirely due to nationalist youths who had travelled, from late afternoon onwards, to various interface locations around Ardoyne seeking to provoke trouble.
“The PSNI emphasised that they are aware of the seriousness of this situation and have given a firm commitment that extra patrolling resources are being deployed at weekends.”
North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds said: “Stone throwing risks inflicting grievous injury upon people and property and there is a clear onus on parents to ensure their children do not become guilty of serious crime. I would appeal in particular to community leaders in the Ardoyne area to use their influence to ensure that there is no repetition of this incident.”
Councillor Danny Lavery said these attacks are being organised on social networking sites and added: “There has certainly been a great deal of work done by community workers to reduce these type of attacks and there has been a noticeable reduction.
“We are doing whatever we can to eliminate these attacks as they are ruining people’s lives. They are absolutely disgraceful.”