Sinn Fein hits out at police after youths rampage in west Belfast
SINN Féin has accused the PSNI of "abject failure" over its handling of anti-social behaviour in west Belfast after more than 200 rampaging youths set fire to a former pub and attacked passers-by with bottles and fireworks.
The large crowd - which involved some as young as 13 - gathered at the site of the derelict Brook Lodge bar in Summerhill Drive in Twinbrook on the outskirts of west Belfast on Saturday October 17.
Police officers attending were attacked with missiles, and a 17-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of disorderly behaviour and assaulting police.
Two teenagers were taken to the Royal Victoria Hospital for treatment, including a girl who had fallen along the Derriaghy River.
Sinn Féin MLA Jennifer McCann said residents had been left "distressed and angry" by what happened.
"Over 200 youths gathered at the old site of the Brook Lodge drinking alcohol, burning bins and blocking roads. The premises itself was set on fire and a number of residents had to be moved due to the closeness of this fire to their homes.
"Obviously this has left residents distressed and angry. At one time there were two fire engines, three ambulances and eight PSNI vehicles at the scene yet the PSNI refused to deal with the crowd responsible."
Ms McCann added: "This is unacceptable. The PSNI need to afford residents a right to live free from this harassment and do their job."
The West Belfast MLA said that the scenes on Saturday night "cannot be allowed to happen again".
"Voluntary organisations such as the Colin Neighbourhood Safety Partnership have in previous weeks informed the PSNI of the escalating situation in the area and had requested the PSNI put a plan of action in to address the situation. This obviously has not happened."
Twinbrook Sinn Féin councillor Stephen Magennis said that the crowd was "abusing anybody who passed them."
Several Twinbrook residents took to social media to express their anger at anti-social behaviour which they said was becoming a regular occurrence and questioned what parents were doing.
One wrote: "Have lived in Twinbrook for over 30 years and have never known it to be as bad."
Another added: "This is every Saturday and Sunday morning without fail for the past few weeks."
PSNI Inspector Paul Noble said officers would meet with political representatives to discuss anti-social behaviour in the area.
He said: "We recognise this is an ongoing problem that requires a long term solution. We will continue to work with all our partners in the council and other agencies and community groups to address it."
"We would also ask parents to be aware of where their kids are gathering as many come from other neighbourhoods and are getting involved in anti-social behaviour."