Belfast Telegraph

MLA's fears over violence increase

Shootings, bombings and attacks on the police in Northern Ireland have become as normal as the weather forecast, it was claimed.

Regular grim reminders of the past hark back to a time when violence was accepted, a Stormont member of Ukip said.

This weekend a police patrol was targeted with a pipe bomb which failed to explode, a boy aged 15 was shot in both legs and an attempt was made to torch the offices of political moderates.

The threat from dissident republicans opposed to the peace process and intending to kill policemen and soldiers is severe while the chairman of Northern Ireland's Police Federation which represents rank and file officers has said the loyalist Ulster Volunteer Force's ceasefire is over.

Ukip MLA David McNarry said: "The daily violence read out seems as normal as the weather forecast or the sports results but it isn't normal and therein lies the problem because we are being sucked back into what some people once said was an acceptable level of violence.

"Indeed it is not and it cannot be, nor can we accept what people would suggest would be an acceptable level of violence."

A police patrol was the target of a pipe bomb attack in Strabane close to the Irish border in County Tyrone on Saturday, a Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) spokesman said.

A teenager was shot in Coleraine near the North Coast in the style favoured for so-called paramilitary punishment attacks by self-styled vigilantes. East Belfast Alliance Party MP Naomi Long has called for an independent body established by the British and Irish Governments to review levels of paramilitary violence during the peace process to be revived because of the threat.

Her centrist party has been targeted on a number of occasions following loyalist outrage at a Belfast City Council decision last year to limit the flying of the Union flag at City Hall. Alliance has condemned the litany of threats as fascist.

Detectives are investigating another petrol bomb attack on the party's offices in mainly loyalist east Belfast over the weekend.

Local Alliance MLA Chris Lyttle told the Assembly some politicians had not gone far enough in opposing extremism.

"Whilst PSNI officers place their lives on the line in service to this community in response to these attacks the language and actions of some elected representatives in our community have in my opinion fallen short of what is required from them with regards to support for the PSNI and the rule of law and democracy," he said.

A total of 260 people have been convicted over loyalist public disorder in the last year.

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