Belfast Telegraph

Missiles fly over 'The Wall' as interface plight airs on television

Bob Malcolm

While a  BBC documentary about the lives of residents living at the interface of the Short Strand and Newtownards Road was being aired, violence was flaring up on the streets – as well as on television screens.

On Monday night BBC Northern Ireland aired the documentary "True North: The Wall", a show depicting the daily lives of those affected by the interface, and "sporadic" instances of interface violence were being aired on the streets.

In the early hours of Monday morning similar scenes were seen on the Newtownards Road, and a local politician has said that the latest spate of attacks began on Saturday.

According to local people, at around 7.20pm on Monday night a number of missiles, including stones and fireworks, were launched in to Duke Street and Bryson Street.

At approximately 9.30pm a brick had been thrown through the window of a car travelling along the Newtownards Road.

The male driver sustained a cut to his head in this incident.

And, at around, 10.45pm a number of people were throwing stones and fireworks in the Newtownards Road area.

Damage was caused to two windows in a bus as it travelled along the road. A Translink spokesperson said that the company was offering up to a £1,000 reward to anyone who witnessed the event and were willing to give evidence in court, that resulted in a conviction.

At around 12.30am on Monday morning two unknown males were seen in the garden of a property in Pitt Place and were challenged by local residents.

They were described as being aged in their 20's, of slim build, one wearing a red top and the other wearing a white hooded top. Both males made off in the direction of Bryson Street.

A police spokesperson said: "Police arrived in the area within minutes and spoke with local residents and conducted a check of the area. Police remained in the area for a number of hours and the investigation into the incident remains ongoing."

A local UUP representative countered the police's claims that they remained in the area during the earliest incident, because an inspector on the ground told residents "they couldn't, they didn't have enough resources".

Maggie Hutton, of the Ballymacarett committee and the UUP said: "At around 12.30am residents heard grilles being shaken and shouting. One guy was pulling a flag down and pulling on the grille. People came out and got them across the street. There was a lot of shouting."

East Belfast UUP MLA Michael Copeland said: "I condemn all violence from whatever quarter it comes. It achieves absolutely nothing except to cause misery and distress for ordinary people. Citizens living on interfaces find themselves in many ways on a forgotten frontier. They merely wish to live in peace in their own homes, is that too much to ask 15 years since the peace agreement?"

Short Strand resident and Sinn Fein councillor Niall O Donnghaile said he was not aware of any incidents occurring prior to Monday night, but that there were nightly events and residents in the Short Strand were receiving the same treatment.

He said: "These are sporadic incidents, but that is not to take away from the seriousness of them.

"They may have gained more attention because of the programme but there is not a huge amount to be said except to condone these incidents.

"As the programme showed, no one in this area wants this type of activity."

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