Belfast Telegraph

Attack on party offices condemned

Politicians have rounded on attackers who attempted to torch Alliance Party offices in Northern Ireland.

Detectives are investigating the petrol-bomb attack on the building at Upper Newtownards Road in unionist east Belfast.

Two devices were thrown at the property at about 10.45pm last night in an incident denounced as an attack on democracy.

The PSNI said one of the petrol bombs ignited on the street and was extinguished by a passing police patrol.

They are looking for a man who was wearing a red-coloured hooded top who is believed to have been involved in the incident.

The suspect was seen making off in the direction of Finvoy Street.

Detectives have appealed for information.

The centrist Alliance Party has been targeted on a number of occasions in the wake of loyalist outrage at a Belfast City Council decision last year to limit the flying of the Union flag at City Hall.

Alliance Party MP Naomi Long - who has been subjected to death threats amid the furore - said the attempted fire-bomb attack on the her party premises was an attack on democracy.

"This is not an attack on an individual party or office, it is an attack on democracy," she said.

"There can be no justification for this and there is no place for this kind of violence on our streets."

The condemnation was backed by unionist leaders in East Belfast.

Robin Newton, DUP MLA for the area, said any attempt to intimidate elected representatives must be condemned and a clear message sent that such tactics are wrong and unjustified.

"Whoever carried out this attack is misguided and is likely to end up in court, facing a custodial sentence," he said.

"Those who live in the area may have had their lives and their business damaged by this foolish attack.

"Potentially, a huge amount of property could have been destroyed."

Michael Copeland, Ulster Unionist MLA for East Belfast, said the attack was futile and pointless.

"Fire bombing an office building will achieve absolutely nothing," he said. "If those that carried out this attack have any coherent argument to put across, then they must attempt to do it through politics.

"I commend the emergency services for their prompt action."

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