Belfast Telegraph

Maskey hits out at dissidents over bonfire violence

By Lesley-Anne McKeown

Dissident republicans are being blamed for violence which flared following an internment bonfire in north Belfast.

Police were pelted with petrol bombs, stolen vehicles were burnt out and the home of well-known mainstream republican Gerry O’Reilly was attacked during the disturbances on Wednesday.

Six people have since been arrested.

Superintendent Barbara Gray said: “Sadly when so many are following the progress of our Olympians, a very small number of people are intent on causing disruption and mayhem and I strongly condemn their actions.

“I would assure the local community that we will continue to work with them to reduce this type of behaviour and ask for their assistance with information which would bring those responsible to justice.”

Three men aged 33, 24 and 20 and two 17-year-old males were last night in police custody. A 13-year-old girl has been released pending a report to the Public Prosecution Service.

A banner bearing the name of Sinn Fein councillor Conor Maskey was burnt on the fire — erected to mark the 40th anniversary of internment.

Mr Maskey said: “These so-called dissidents need to explain to the community why they used a small group of children to assemble the bonfire against the clear wishes of the majority of residents. Their only contribution to life in the New Lodge is destruction, facilitating attacks on republican ex-prisoners and giving young people criminal records.

“The banner with my name on it has only made me more determined than ever to continue the work of trying to make life better for the people of the New Lodge.”

Meanwhile, in separate violence in Banbridge, firefighters were attacked on their way to reports of a blaze in a derelict factory in the Brookfield Industrial Estate.

A burning barricade was placed across the Scarva Road and a gang threw bricks, stones, wood and bottles at police and fire crews.

A man (21) and a girl (15) have been charged with public order offences.

Inspector Jacqui Gillespie said: “Arrests have been made and more will follow. I can assure the community we will not falter in our efforts to ensure those responsible will be brought to justice.”

Belfast Telegraph

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