Belfast Telegraph

Police swamp east Belfast interface after two nights of violence

By Deborah McAleese

A heavy police presence remains in east Belfast in a bid to crack down on sectarian gang violence.

Protestant and Catholic teenagers have been involved in a series of violent clashes in the area.

On Sunday night officers who were on patrol to try and keep the peace between the warring factions were attacked with petrol bombs.

Two petrol bombs were thrown at around 10.25pm in the Beersbridge Road area following a report of a number of bins being set alight.

Police also received reports that a number of fireworks were thrown in the Castlereagh Street area.

Nobody was injured during the incidents.

A 17-year-old youth was arrested for attempted criminal damage and is to appear before Belfast Youth Court on September 19.

The violence followed a night of serious disturbances on Saturday when a street fight broke out between gangs of around 40 youths.

Two petrol bombs were also thrown and a number of properties were vandalised during the trouble.

PUP councillor John Kyle said youths had been causing trouble in the area for around six months.

"It seems to be recreational rioting that is likely being organised on social media," he said.

"There has been trouble for six months with youths engaging in anti-social behaviour.

"The ones roaming around are in their early and mid-teens.

"It has been very difficult to control it."

He added: "We need the police, parents and community leaders to co-operate to try and bring it under control."

Alliance councillor Maire Hendron said she was concerned the trouble could escalate out of control.

"Police are doing their best. There is a police presence in the area every day but unfortunately there is still trouble and I just worry about it getting out of control," said Ms Hendron.

"It is appalling that people can't live in their homes without fear of gangs fighting outside or their windows being smashed. Some families are living in fear."

The PSNI said "a small minority of individuals showed a complete disregard for their area and the community who live there by attacking police" on Sunday night.

The PSNI added that officers were committed to keeping people safe and "police will continue to provide the dedicated service to the local community."

Story so far

Almost 50 people have been arrested by police for offences at a notorious flashpoint in east Belfast in the past five months. Despite a continued police presence in the area, sectarian violence between rival gangs erupted again over the weekend. Incidents on Saturday and Sunday night saw four petrol bombs, as well as bricks, bottles and fireworks thrown, with up to 40 teenagers brawling in the street.

Sectarian gang clashes in east Belfast arranged via social media 

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