Belfast Telegraph

Mayor calls for joint action to avoid repeat of rioting

by Fiona Rutherford

Belfast lord mayor Councillor Pat Convery has called on statutory agencies and community organisations to join forces to prevent a repetition of last week’s rioting.

He said: “The whole community has been forthright in its condemnation of the rioters and the notable difference from the past is that the condemnation is unanimous.

“But that cannot be enough. We need to learn the lessons of the last week and we need to learn them quickly, since the next |potential trouble point is only weeks away.”

He said there had been a focus on the youth of the rioters and the role of their parents but added: “While the sight of children as young as eight or nine with stones or even petrol bombs is horrific, the involvement of under-age young people and children in |rioting is neither new nor unique to Ardoyne.

“Parents need back-up and support, parents need to know that when tensions rise again and young people are being deliberately agitated, they do not face the task of control alone.

“There are a number of statutory agencies which should come together with community bodies and representatives to reach out to the young people before they become cannon fodder again.”

He said it was vital that the young people have face-to-face contact with the police. “We need to show the young people that their stones and petrol bombs can injure and kill real people with families just like theirs.”

Mr Convery has had some positive responses to his offer to make the office of lord mayor available to facilitate dialogue between marchers and protesters.

“I would also be happy to facilitate a joint outreach to young people involving statutory agencies, community and civic bodies, public representatives and the PSNI.

“I took on the role of Lord Mayor in the conviction that we must find the best way to move from a divided past to a prosperous future and I believe such an initiative could help put us on the right path.”

Meanwhile, the police continue to question and charge people in connection with the trouble. They had made five arrests by the end of last week.

North Belfast Alliance councillor Billy Webb said: “The appalling actions of a few must not be allowed to impact on the massive progress we have made in recent years to build peace.”

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