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David Ford voiced his displeasure at the violence

David Ford voiced his displeasure at the violence

David Ford voiced his displeasure at the violence

There has been widespread condemnation after the third consecutive night of rioting in parts of Belfast.

Petrol bombs, fireworks and bottles were thrown at police close to a sectarian interface in the east of the city last night.

A 70-year-old woman had to be treated for shock after being showered with glass when her home in the nationalist Short Strand area was hit.

Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) chief inspector David Moore said: "For a third night running police have had to deal with ongoing disorder in East Belfast where local homes have been damaged and officers have come under attack from fireworks, bottles, petrol bombs and other missiles.

"There were two reports of windows being broken in houses in the Short Strand area. An elderly woman lives in one of the houses and a young mother and her young son live in the other. It is very fortunate that no one received any injuries in these attacks."

A police officer was also hurt when he was hit on the leg with a piece of masonry.

Petrol bombs and fireworks were thrown at a church on Newtownards Road however, it is not believed any damage was caused.

Mr Moore added: "These incidents are reckless and have the potential to result in someone getting seriously injured or killed. The people involved have shown callous disregard for the safety of the local residents in the community and the police officers who serve it."

On Tuesday, a 15-year-old schoolboy suffered a fractured skull after being attacked in the unionist Albertbridge Road area.

The disorder has been blamed on rival gangs of youths from both sides of the sectarian divide.

Northern Ireland's Justice Minister has led the calls of condemnation.

David Ford said: "Regrettably the recent trouble at the interface in east Belfast highlights the importance of dealing with the underlying problems in interface communities if continued progress is to be made in the removal of interface barriers.

"I utterly condemn the recent violence, which highlights the need for not only community leadership but consistent and sustained political leadership if we are to deliver economic, social, community and physical renewal within interface areas."

Dr John Kyle from the Progressive Unionist Party (PUP) which provides political advice to the Ulster Volunteer Force paramilitary grouping said the violence should not be played down.

He said: "It leaves me with feelings of real despair that incidents like this are still taking place 20 years after the hope of the ceasefires, we have a young person in hospital with a serious injury because of sectarian violence at an interface.

"It is important that the PSNI and anyone else does not down play incidents like this as they are a manifestation of sectarian division and this is something we all must wake up to and address."

Sinn Fein councillor Niall O Donnghaile appealed for an end to all the trouble.

He said: "We need to see proactive and joined-up political, community and statutory leadership to face these issues but also resources and support for those on the ground who are working to deal with the issues and make the east safer for all.

"I want to repeat that all incidents at the interface in east Belfast should end now and residents there should be left to live in peace."

At an emergency meeting of the east Belfast Policing and Community Safety Partnership Mervyn Jones from the cross-community Alliance Party said the violence was futile.

He said: "This violence in only doing damage to their own communities and will ultimately result in many young people ending up with a criminal record."

The Police Federation for Northern Ireland (PFNI) has described those involved in the rioting as "thugs".

PFNI chairman Terry Spence said: "Last night was the third consecutive night of disorder in parts of east Belfast, and it has to stop. People who are living in fear have to co-operate with the police to bring the thugs to justice.

"Once again, a police officer was injured, struck in the leg by a piece of masonry, and that is unacceptable. The police are there to serve the entire community, but for them to be effective and restore order, they require the help of the people who, sadly, are bearing the brunt of this mindless violence."