Belfast Telegraph

Riots 'not due to investment lack'

The worst riots for years in Belfast were not sparked by a lack of investment, Northern Ireland's Finance Minister said.

Three people were shot amid two nights of sectarian battles between loyalists and nationalists on streets in the east of the city last week.

Police blamed the loyalist Ulster Volunteer Force for orchestrating violence which saw the force caught in the middle, pelted with petrol bombs and other missiles in the Lower Newtownards Road area.

Stormont Finance Minister Sammy Wilson rejected the assertion from loyalist community representatives that tensions boiled over because the government had not handed out enough money.

"For people to say that this is because there has not been new investment in community programmes is a cop out," he said.

He said there had been significant investment in the area, including new housing at the bottom of the Newtownards Road and resources directed towards schools and the voluntary sector.

"These things happen because bad people do bad things and it makes it much more difficult for those of us who want to improve things across Northern Ireland," he added.

An official has been appointed by the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister at the power-sharing ministerial executive to examine issues affecting the area.

The intervention came after one of the most deprived sections of the city was left reeling from riots, burning cars and confrontations with the police over two nights last week. Three people, including a Press Association photographer, were shot during the violence.

Government jobs creation agency Invest Northern Ireland revealed in a review of last year, that the Northern Ireland economy benefits from over £600 million investment and almost £170 million per year in additional wages and salaries.


From Belfast Telegraph