Belfast Telegraph

Police chief pledges action over Belfast disorder

Another car has been set alight in Belfast as localised disorder erupted for a second night.

Several vehicles and a disused building were targeted by arsonists on Monday and police officers were attacked.

Police have stepped up patrols and vowed to bring to justice those responsible.

The removal of wood from a bonfire site in the nationalist Markets area near the city centre by Belfast City Council-hired contractors triggered the violent scenes.

Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) chief constable George Hamilton said: "These were largely young people involved in causing destruction and mayhem in their own communities.

"There is absolutely no excuse, no justification for the burning of cars and the causing of destruction in people's own communities - it just doesn't make sense at any level."

On Tuesday evening a car was set alight in North Belfast, near a bonfire beside the New Lodge flats.

Bonfires were lit in some nationalist areas on Tuesday to mark the anniversary of the introduction of the controversial state policy of internment without trial.

Mainstream republicans have distanced themselves from the practice, blaming anti-social elements for trouble.

Sinn Fein's Stormont leader Michelle O'Neill has denied her party's drive within the council to take action against dangerous bonfires - a proposal to allow the seizure of material was cleared last week - had stirred tensions among the young people who build them.

Following the removal of wood on Monday, a derelict credit union building and cars belonging to commuters into the city were set alight and officers were targeted by a petrol bomb, bricks and bottles.

Mr Hamilton insisted arrests would follow.

He said children as young as 12 were involved.

"People engaged in this are responsible for their actions but parents have a responsibility too in all of this."

Mrs O'Neill condemned those involved in disorder.

"The community don't want to see that action and it is the action of a small number of people," she said.

"It is not something the community want to be involved with, it is not something that is a wider problem.

"I believe that it is time for strong political leadership. Sinn Fein have not been found wanting in that regard, particularly in the last number of days.

"Tackling these issues is a policing issue on one hand, but it is also a political problem on the other hand."

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