Belfast Telegraph

Police attacked after teens go on rampage in Belfast cemetery

The vandalism is similar to an attack on numerous graves in the cemetery in 2013
The vandalism is similar to an attack on numerous graves in the cemetery in 2013

By Lisa Smyth

More than 100 teenagers went on the rampage at Belfast City Cemetery, damaging headstones and floral tributes, over the weekend.

Police responding to the crowd, which had assembled in the cemetery close to the Whiterock Road in west Belfast, subsequently came under attack by the teens who threw bricks, stones and bottles at officers.

There was no sign of damage at the graveyard yesterday afternoon but a local resident said she was disgusted at the behaviour of the teenagers.

"I'm totally horrified that they think this is acceptable behaviour," she said.

"I would say there was more than 100 of them and they were wrecking the place.

"Enough is enough - where are their parents when all of this is going on? It's so disrespectful. How would they feel if a grave belonging to their mum or dad or someone else they loved was being treated like this?"

A PSNI spokeswoman said police received a report at 8.50pm on Saturday of a large group of youths gathering in the vicinity of the Falls Park and City Cemetery area.

She said officers came under "sustained attack" and a number of headstones in the cemetery were damaged.

Inspector Natalie McNally said work is under way to establish the identity of the people involved in the unrest.

"The behaviour of the youths was an absolute disgrace," she said.

"They have no thought or respect for anyone.

"A graveyard is a place where grieving families come to pay their respects to their loved ones - a place where they can feel close to those they have lost.

"I would ask these youths to take a moment and ask themselves how they would feel if the grave of someone they loved was damaged as a result of this type of wanton behaviour.

"Imagine coming into the graveyard and being confronted by this damage. It would be devastating.

"The people of west Belfast do not want this.

"Everyone should be free to live in peace and not be afraid to go outside because of groups of intimidating youths."

Inspector McNally continued: "I do not believe these youths are representative of the youth of west Belfast.

"Over the coming days we will be working to identify those involved.

"I would appeal to the parents or guardians of those involved to please talk to their children and warn them of the repercussions of their actions and the impact it is having on the whole of the community."

In 2013 as many as 30 graves at the cemetery were damaged by vandals, with ornaments and graves smashed in an attack that left bereaved families distraught.

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