Tuesday 20 March 2018

Building and cars set on fire in Belfast as youths throw petrol bombs and stones

A parked car set alight by youths burns on Stewart Street in Belfast
A parked car set alight by youths burns on Stewart Street in Belfast
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

A derelict building has been set on fire in west Belfast during disturbances involving nationalist youths on Monday night.

The fire at the Credit Union office in the Lower Falls area comes hours after police were attacked and cars were set alight by masked youths during disorder in the Markets area of south Belfast.

Paul Maskey, Sinn Fein MP for West Belfast, condemned the violence as "wanton destruction by a number of young people causing havoc in the Falls area."

He told the Belfast Telegraph the destruction was totally against the will of the people in the area.

"I would call on all on those involved in this to desist, I call on parents to know where their children are this evening and over the coming days."

Trouble first erupted in the city on Monday afternoon when a number of vehicles were set alight and others were damaged by stones and paint in the Stewart Street area of the city, near Belfast Central train station.

A large police presence remained in the Markets area on Monday evening, as officers in riot gear dealt with "some localised disorder in the Friendly Street area".

Officers were targeted with petrol bombs, bricks, bottles and other missiles.

Smoke rises after parked cars set alight
Smoke rises after parked cars set alight

The trouble broke out in the area after republican bonfire material was removed on Monday morning.

Police say it was caused “by a small group of youths”.

Superintendent Andrea McMullan said: “We are working with local representatives and members of the community to address the situation."

"Local residents of the Markets do not want this kind of activity on their doorsteps and we would urge those engaged in violence and criminal damage to stop – and go home.”

A number of vandalised cars are understood to belong to commuters.

Sinn Fein Councillor for the area, Deirdre Hargey, said the damage was “unacceptable”.

"I condemn those responsible in the strongest possible way," she said.

"Both commuters and residents have been affected. Cars have been smashed with stones and several have been set alight.

PSNI officers after cars were attacked by youths
PSNI officers after cars were attacked by youths

"Over the weekend there were a series of incidents of vandalism in the Market area. This has seen the local Sure Start facility damaged resulting in the main gate into the facility being destroyed.

"There is no defending this behaviour at all and it needs to stop now."

The councillor urged parents to "take responsibility for their children and know where they are at all times”.

Earlier SDLP MLA for South Belfast Claire Hanna said she was appalled at the "criminal damage to cars parked in the Market".

"Hope those responsible are brought to court", she tweeted.

Local Alliance Councillor Emmet McDonough Brown condemned those behind the disorder as “thugs who have no place in the community".

He has appealed for calm in the area.

"Belfast is a thriving, cosmopolitan city and we cannot allow the thugs behind these recent attacks to detract from the positive image of Belfast that attracts investors and tourists alike,” he added.

A council spokeswoman said: "We can confirm that bonfire material was removed from a car park during an operation in the Markets area today."

Belfast Telegraph

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