Belfast Telegraph

Police identify four people sought over Avoniel Leisure Centre 'disruption' after releasing images

The contentious bonfire built on the grounds of Avoniel Leisure Centre in Belfast (Liam McBurney/PA)
The contentious bonfire built on the grounds of Avoniel Leisure Centre in Belfast (Liam McBurney/PA)

Police have identified all four people they wanted to speak to over "disruption" at a Belfast leisure centre over the summer.

Police released images of the four people on Thursday. On Friday morning all had been identified.

There have been no arrests.

Tensions flared at Avoniel Leisure Centre in July when a bonfire was built in the car park of the council-run facility ahead of Eleventh night celebrations.

Belfast City Council voted to remove material from the bonfire, prompting a stand off with loyalists occupying the site.

Contractors hired to carry out the work pulled out after threatening graffiti appeared near the leisure centre.

The council was warned intelligence indicated "that any attempt by the council to remove bonfire material will cause a severe violent confrontation, orchestrated by the UVF".

On one occasion, Avoniel Leisure Centre was forced to close early after a group of men blocked the entrance.

Loyalists manned the site 24 hours a day during the impasse, barricading the gates a number of times in anticipation of the police moving in.

The bonfire went ahead on the Eleventh night.

On releasing the images police said they are "relentlessly" pursuing those involved in incidents across the city last summer.

Detective Chief Inspector Mary White explained: “We are releasing four images of individuals whom we’d like to talk to in connection with our ongoing investigations into persons unlawfully entering Avoniel Leisure Centre and disrupting its activities which took place in the area of Avoniel Road, Belfast on the run up to July last year.

“Over the course of a number of days, there was a small number of people in the area who were intent on causing disruption to the normal business of the council facility."

DCI White said police are committed to identify all those involved "in a range of incidents" across Belfast last summer and will be "relentless" in bringing said offenders before the courts.

"By releasing these images I am hopeful that the wider community will help us identify these individuals. It is in everybody’s interest – as well as in the interest of justice - that those responsible are dealt with appropriately and I would urge anyone who may have any information to bring it forward," she added.

“I also encourage the persons within these pictures to contact police directly. In doing so they will minimise the impact on themselves, their family and their community.

“Anyone who may be able to identify any of these individuals or provide any information about them such as their name, address or age is urged to contact detectives at Musgrave Police Station on 101."

Information can also be provided anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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