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'Mindless morons are damaging their own community'

By Angela Rainey

Published 26/01/2016

Michael Geoghegan in Lurgan yesterday
Michael Geoghegan in Lurgan yesterday
PSNI Superintendent Davy Moore

The crowd of rioters who attacked police on Sunday night, including some as young as eight years old, have done nothing but disrupt and damage their own community, say residents and police.

A crowd of more than 30 rioters, described as being from eight years old to "grown men" bombarded police with petrol and paint bombs, bricks and bottles.

The three-hour stand-off which saw extra officers, a police helicopter, dog unit and even the army drafted in for back-up, has been condemned by PSNI Superintendent Davy Moore.

He blasted those responsible as "bewildered old men who do not realise that the world has moved on," saying they "had no ideology and nothing to offer but disruption to their own community." Father-of-four Michael Geoghegan (48) was watching television with his wife Natalie when the riots broke out only yards from his Lake Street home.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Mr Geoghegan, the director of a cleaning company, said he and his family have lived in the house for 16 years and his grandmother had lived there before him.

He said: "We were sitting watching TV when we heard the stones hit the Land Rovers then we saw the flashes of lights as the petrol bombs exploded.

"We got a knock at the door and it was a man asking if we wanted to leave our car in the gated fold across the road.

"By midnight it had all quietened down.

"My wife and I got used to it, to be honest, but one of my sons couldn't sleep with the noise from the helicopter.

"Historically, 364 days a year this is a nice quiet place to live but if there's a riot going to happen it will happen in this street.

"Nobody wants this any more, people are only disrupting their own - I just hope it all gets resolved as peacefully as possible."

Residents from the same street say they had been told by community workers of potential plans to distribute fire extinguishers to households as a precaution.

Business owners in Lurgan, too afraid to be identified for fear of reprisals, said trade had come to a "virtual standstill" with many regular customers staying away until the trouble ceases.

A 50-year-old business owner said: "Any other day you can barely park around the estate, everyone is usually double-parked but today there's not a sinner around.

"That's the damage that's being done that these workless thugs don't see, and don't care about.

"Ordinary decent people trying to make a living for their families are being stopped from earning an honest wage - nobody wants this."

His view was echoed by another business owner who said the thugs were "mindless morons".

Great-grandmother Magdalene McEnoy (65), said: "I've lived here all my life and it's a lovely place with lovely neighbours but those rioting want to go and get a life, decent people don't want this here.

Sinn Féin's Catherine Seeley added: "Local people and commuters are fed up with these incidents which serve absolutely no purpose except to disrupt lives and services.

"Recently this activity has disrupted people on their way to work or when preparing their children for school.

"Local doctors' services have been affected, as has Home Help and other medical services in the area.

"Those behind these attacks have no political vision or strategy.

"It is completely and utterly futile."

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