Anger as fire service forced to withdraw from west Belfast after attacks
UUP MLA Robbie Butler has slammed the "totally senseless and utterly moronic" actions of youths who attacked fire engines responding to call outs in west Belfast.
Mr Butler served in the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service for 16 years and said appliances from his old station, Cadogan Fire Station on Belfast's Lisburn Road, were attacked two weeks in a row.
"It is my understanding that on both occasions the crew were forced to withdraw after the windscreen of the vehicles were smashed," the Lagan Valley MLA said.
"I condemn them in the strongest possible terms. Incidents such as these not only endanger the lives of the crew members, but also the communities that they serve."
Mr Butler said that the actions of the young people involved were potentially putting lives at risk by reducing emergency response times.
“I have contacted both the Interim Chief Fire Officer and the Assistant Chief Fire Officer to inquire about the exact details of the attacks, as well as to offer them my total support in anything that they may need to help reduce any future senseless attacks such as these," the UUP MLA said.
“Last year tougher sentences were introduced in England and Wales to offer greater protection to emergency workers under the Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act. It’s about time that attacks on our emergency workers here were similarly clamped down on.
“Anyone, no matter their age, who attacks a fire engine responding to a call, must be held to account for the gravity and selfishness of their actions. There must be a zero-tolerance approach to incidents such as these.”
NIFRS has been contacted for comment.