Rioters 'damaging own communities'

Published Sunday, 06 January 2013
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The chief executive of NI's independent traders' association has branded ongoing disorder in Belfast as "counter-productive", saying those involved are damaging their own local communities.

Rioters 'damaging own communities'
The clean-up operation continues after a third night of violence in Belfast. (© Pacemaker)

Glyn Roberts, of NIIRTA, spoke to UTV after a third consecutive night of trouble in the east of the city.

Trouble broke out in the area when hundreds of loyalist demonstrators returning from a march to the City Hall came under attack from missiles thrown from the nearby nationalist Short Strand area. Police are investigating reports of shots being fired from the loyalist side.

The protest march over the flags issue passed off without incident. However, the presence of up to 1,000 loyalists resulted in road closures, and major traffic and trade disruption.

Riot officers dealt with disorder in the Newtownards Road, Albertbridge Road, Castlereagh Street and Templemore Avenue areas for several hours on Saturday.

Protests, along with street violence, have been taking place regularly throughout Northern Ireland since Belfast councillors voted in early December to only fly the Union Flag from City Hall on designated days.

Mr Roberts appealed for those behind the rioting to put a stop to it.

Condemning the violence, he said: "I would appeal to the people organising these riots to stop - consider the damage they are doing, not just to their own local community, and their own local traders - but to the reputation of Northern Ireland throughout the world.

"We've international TV crews here covering this - beaming those pictures of riots across the world. That's doing immense damage to Northern Ireland's reputation at a time where we're desperate to get foreign, direct investment.

"So I appeal to the people behind these riots to stop and consider the immense damage they are doing."

The retail expert added that it was not just Belfast city centre that was suffering, but small retailers located in the city's arterial routes.

"Traders on the Newtownards Road, on the Albertbridge Road were pretty much unable to open yesterday - and people forget about those small traders as well.

"Both those areas have a real serious economic problem. There are many shop vacancies there and these continual riots certainly don't help those traders."

He described the protests as "counter-productive," stating: "They are damaging their own local communities."

On Saturday night, eleven men and two women charged over rioting in Belfast appeared before a special sitting of the city's Magistrates' Court.

Four others were also charged at other court sittings on the same day.

Meanwhile, nine police officers were injured on Friday night during rioting throughout the Greater Belfast area, while 10 received injuries on Thursday night.

© UTV News
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18 Comments
Tommy Atkins in London, England wrote (590 days ago):
Folks from N Ireland are now shopping in England. Taking their cars over with them and spending their hard earned cash here. Meanwhile tourism is on the increase for England and Scotland. This is terrific for business on the mainland. all i can say is "Thank you protestors!" and Keep destroying your communities if you want to. BTW in the end your rates will rise
ronnie monkman in newtownabbey wrote (591 days ago):
does mrs bean of donegall not realise that the garda and irish army have no right to give support to the psni, i bet if there was serious disorder in dublin, she would not want the british army back on the streets of her country, if the psni requires suffient support then no doubt are own army can give support, and i dont think the republican movement would be happy for that to happen.
Paul in London wrote (591 days ago):
That's how stupid these people are. Uneducated nothing better to do. You bring shame to the flag
Denise in co antrim wrote (591 days ago):
To those of you who are saying that Sinn Fein got rewarded through violence. Not all true. The IRA representatives only started to really benefit politically agenda was when they cessated their violence and decommissioned their weapons so please stop trying to justify violence in this manner. Also, two wrongs dont make a right and as a lot of older people here know from experience, it has cause a lot of heartache. Ithink anyone who wants to engage in futile violence like this no matter what side of the divide they are from should be arrested, brought before the courts and dealt with. Maybe it would be a good idea to deduct some of their benefits to pay for the damage they have caused. Protests are one thing but destroying the community which they say they respresent is inexplicable.
Belfast Shopper in Belfast wrote (592 days ago):
Mark in East Belfast: You are quite right! The damage is being done to the image of Belfast and of the flag they claim to support! Hevs in Belfast Jobs Queue: Who in their right mind would want to give a job to people who disgrace their own people and destroy their own communities as we have seen from the Senior Infants in the last few weeks? The solution is to take down the flag pole and then NO FLAG can fly over the city hall.
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