Belfast Telegraph

Girl injured in interface spat

By Dave Whelan

Violence at a renowned interface is being stirred up on social media according to a local councillor. Short Strand councillor Niall O'Donnghaile said that he is in no doubt that a "social media gang culture" between youths is to blame for recent violence at Woodstock Link.

On Monday night (December 2), a 17-year-old girl was treated in hospital after being struck with a brick from the nearby Short Strand area.

East Belfast MLA Michael Copeland said he attended the scene after hearing that trouble had broken out among youths.

Mr Copeland said that a group of youths had been walking along the Ravenhill Road towards the Albertbridge Road when they had tiles thrown at them.

Around 30 to 40 youths then came from the Mountpottinger Green area and continued to attack the group.

"The young woman was able to identify her attacker and while giving her statement to police it would appear her attacker actually Facebooked her to gloat about doing so," said Mr Copeland.

"Police have maintained a presence in the area after a number of recent incidents and this is a representation of the problem police have policing the interface.

"This attack was clearly an attempt of inciting petty hatred and must stand as a symbol of the futility of violence."

A police spokesperson confirmed that they responded to a report of rival youths gathering in the area of Woodstock Link and that a 17 year old female was treated in hospital for an injury to her elbow. There were no further reports of incidents, they added.

Councillor O'Donnghaile said: "Not to diminish the seriousness of the incident but it is quite clear that this violence is not being carried out by responsible adults. We are talking about kids here.

"I am in no doubt that incidents like the one which happened on Monday night and that occurring more frequently are being orchestrated on social media on both sides.

"More and more often we are seeing a gang like culture develop through social media and sometimes the term interface tension is being used as a cloak for what might be going on behind the scenes. It's a problem that has been presenting itself for years and which I have raised with the PSNI because it makes it increasingly difficult to tackle.

"I think given the age of those involved, responsibility really lies with the parents and I would appeal to parents to make it clear to them what a criminal record could do to their future."

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