Northern Ireland news

DUP MP Gavin Robinson voices concern about continuing tension in east Belfast

DUP MP Gavin Robinson has voiced concern about continuing tension in east Belfast and the targeting of Jamie Bryson

DUP MP Gavin Robinson has voiced concern amid growing tensions among loyalists in east Belfast, including the targeting of Jamie Bryson.

Tensions in the area have been rising since a loyalist mob marched through the Pitt Park area last month.

Posting on the DUP Facebook page yesterday the East Belfast MP said: "Three weeks ago I was concerned about a worrying escalation of tit for tat attacks in our community.

"Sadly despite PSNI activity they continue and last night, threats were issued and homes attacked. Although unconnected Jamie Bryson also had property damaged.

"These acts of oppression solve nothing. Our neighbours suffe. Our society suffers. Engagement will continue to bring tensions to an end before it's too late."

Mr Robinson spoke out just days after he was among a DUP delegation who met with the organisation which represents loyalist paramilitary groups, including the UDA and UVF.

Led by party leader Arlene Foster and deputy Nigel Dodds last Thursday they came in for criticism for the meeting amid concerns they were legitimising paramilitary groups.

Mrs Foster however said the meeting with the Loyalist Communities Council (LCC) was to discuss opposition to the Northern Ireland Protocol and anger over the Irish Sea border.

She told the Irish News that she wanted to show that "politics works and the best way to achieve change is through democratic means".

In a separate incident loyalist blogger Jamie Bryson has claimed that a car belonging to him was attacked at the weekend.

Posting on Twitter he made reference to the DUP MP's comments saying: "This rightly makes reference to ‘tit for tat’ attacks in East Belfast (Unconnected to the attack on me)

Last night another home attacked in Pitt Park area (caught on CCTV)..."

The attack on Mr Bryson was condemned by a number of unionist politicians including TUV leader Jim Allister who said on Twitter: "Jamie Bryson is entitled to live as free from intimidation as anyone. So, last night’s attack on his property requires clear PSNI action, particularly given the antecedents of the situation."

Ulster Unionist MLAs Doug Beattie and Mike Nesbitt also said the targeting of Jamie Bryson was "unacceptable and "should be condemned."

North Down Alliance MP Stephen Farry said he condemned the attack on the loyalist blogger "alongside the sectarian, threatening graffiti in Ahoghill" in reference to the Sinn Féin councillor Ian Friary.

"We must have a society based on rule of law. And all attacks and intimidation no matter where they come from or where directed must be challenged."

A spokesperson for the PSNI said: "Police received a report of criminal damage to a vehicle in the North Down area this morning, (Sunday 28th February). It's believed this occurred sometime around 4am.

"Enquiries are ongoing and anyone with information is asked to call police on 101."

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