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Attack on girl blamed for trouble

The PSNI has confirmed that rioting on the Newtownards Road did not begin on Monday night, but on Saturday — as sources from the loyalist community have told the Community Telegraph.

A spokesperson from the loyalist side of the ‘peace wall’ said the violence of Monday and Tuesday night was precipitated by an assault on their homes and a girl being hit on the face by a brick that was thrown from the nationalist side of the wall on Sunday evening.

The PSNI have confirmed Saturday’s rioting: “Police in east Belfast responded to reports of disturbances in the Lower Newtownards Road area at approx 9.30pm on Saturday, June 18.

“Police maintained a presence due to groups of youths gathering in the area until approx 11.30pm when the area was deemed calm.”

The girl who was hit by the brick, Katelyn, was said to be “putting on a brave face” after the incident but was still suffering headaches and had an egg shaped bump on her head.

Her mother, Gail Laughlin, said: “ She was hit on the top of her head above the eye. Her friend was staying here and they left to get the other girl’s clothes. Next thing I knew I had a phone call from a girl Julie saying she was in her house with an ice pack on her head and Julie was cleaning up the blood. I went down and got her and the cut wasn‘t fully open but was bleeding — it could have been much worse.

“She has to lie in bed with an extra pillow and is still getting headaches.

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“We didn’t expect this, she was only going to her friend’s.

“To think that things like this can happen in this day and age is shocking, it just doesn’t seem right.’’

“It’s a complete disgrace,” she added.

She said she had not contacted the PSNI about the incident.

David McConnell of the Exit group, an east Belfast community group, said of the incident on the Saturday night: “Residents from Duke Street and Susan street, including women, came out and stood on the road and a group of 20 men from the Short Strand appeared — they started a riot and women were attacked.

“It’s just came to a head now, it’s been building up and building up and people haven’t been listened to.” He said community workers were trying to quell the tension.

Belfast mayor Niall O Donnghaile, a councillor based in the Short Strand area, said a number of nationalist residents had been injured in the rioting, including one man knocked unconscious when he was hit on the head with a brick.

Police were criticised after the rioting on Monday night for not acting quickly enough.

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