Northern Ireland news

MP calls for an end to anti social bonfires

Damage caused to author Tim Brannigan's house during racist attack

THE MP for West Belfast has called for an end to 'internment' bonfires after a weekend of anti-social behaviour linked to the pyres, including a racist attack on the home of a writer and journalist.

Stolen cars were driven in the vicinity of a bonfire in the Divis area while police have said they are treating an attack on the west Belfast home of author Tim Brannigan as a hate crime.

Racist abuse was shouted at Mr Brannigan who was forced to leave his home after windows were smashed during an three hour-long attack.

The attack happened on Saturday after he raised concerns about a bonfire which was built near his home.

West Belfast MP Paul Maskey said the racist attack and all anti-social behaviour linked to the fires should be "condemned outright".

"Tim is a well-known and a well liked member of this community and all of us will stand with him against such distasteful actions", he said.

"Those behind this attack are believed to have attended an anti-community bonfire in the area.

" While others have called these anti-internment bonfires that fact that at many of these there is graffiti, destruction of local amenities, car thefts and violence shows they are nothing to do with internment whatsoever. They are an excuse for serious anti-social behaviour.

"Sinn Féin have been to the fore in working with community, the PSNI and statutory agencies to tackle anti-social behaviour and will continue to do so", Mr Maskey added.

Speaking about the attack on his home Mr Brannigan said: "I find it difficult, I'm a strong person, I've been through a lot.

"I'm very proud of west Belfast, but it's changing even more quickly than I expected and in a different direction," he told BBC Talkback.

"I think that there seriously needs to be a conversation, but people need to discuss what's going on in the area. The idea of what's acceptable now is disgraceful", he added.

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