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Moves to end 'drug-fest' Twelfth of July party in Sandy Row

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Concerns: Trevor Greer

Concerns: Trevor Greer

Concerns: Trevor Greer

Steps are being taken to put an end to a Twelfth of July street party in south Belfast before "someone is killed".

Thousands descend on Sandy Row for an outdoor rave during the annual celebrations but concerns have been raised about drug use, assaults, robberies and local residents being abused.

Yesterday, a meeting was held in Belfast South Community Resources (BSCR) in Sandy Row and was attended by representatives from BSCR, Greater Village Regeneration Trust (GVRT), the PSNI, Belfast City Council, the Grand Orange Lodge of Belfast and local businesses.

BSCR's community confidence co-ordinator Trevor Greer explained that the event had originally started six years ago as an outside disco and cultural day but has descended into a "drug-fest".

It was agreed that as a first step in putting an end to the rave, there will be no music played outdoors by the local bars from now on.

"There are people openly drug dealing and taking drugs, there have been missing persons, assaults and robberies," said Mr Greer. "Most of that occurred last year.

"This is something that's going to take three or four years to stop. The main thing for me is the amount of drug taking going on. It's only a matter of time before someone is seriously hurt or killed from this. People will make us out as killjoys but it's not that. We just want people to be safe."

GVRT's community safety officer Eddie Kelly, who chaired yesterday's meeting, added that local residents are being "tortured" by some of those attending the street party.

"There are people urinating and defecating in gardens and there are old people living there who are witnessing this," he said.

"There's no respect shown to anyone who lives in the local community. We don't want to tell people that they're not welcome because they are, but don't be coming down for a rave. It's not a drink or drug party, it's a cultural day."

Belfast Telegraph