Northern Ireland news

Major clear-up operation at Belfast interface after violent disorder

Council workers clean up after a night of rioting at the interface on Lanark Way. Picture by Mal McCann

A PARISH priest joined political and community representatives at the scene of rioting in Belfast last night to try to quell the disorder.

Fr Anthony Devlin from St Paul's Church in west Belfast was seen attempting to persuade young people to go home.

A major clear-up operation was underway today close to the interface.

Gates at the peace line at Lanark Way remained padlocked during the early morning clear-up following several hours of disorder yesterday.

Rioting erupted after crowds gathered at the junction of Lanark Way and Shankill Road. The gates were set alight at the interface as crowds from both sides threw petrol bombs.

Fr Tony Devlin watches the disturbances at Lanark Way. Picture by Mal McCann

Belfast City Council workers moved in this morning to remove the debris after tyres and bins were set on fire near the gates. Stones and bottles were also cleared away.

Contractors were also working on the Lanark Way interface gates, which were left badly damaged.

Political representatives, community leaders and church figures, including Fr Devlin, were among those who visited the scene yesterday.

There was strong condemnation of the violence with SDLP councillor Paul McCusker appealing to young people not to become involved.

"To those young people that want to riot, this achieves absolutely nothing, think about your future and don’t get drawn into this," he said.

"Scenes of peace gates that had to be closed, a bus set on fire, rioting, people’s lives being put at risk is disgraceful. Let’s fight for better opportunities, not violence."

Rival groups clash at the interface on Lanark Way in west Belfast Picture Mal McCann.

Mr McCusker said he had been "out across north Belfast along with other reps encouraging young people not to be getting involved in this".

"It’s been a tough year already without adding more distress to local communities and police now need to focus on those organising this so called protests and arrest them," he said.

"They are wrecking communities.

"We now need leadership which is lacking, this country does not deserve this."

Read more: Loyalist anger at post-Brexit trade rules among factors in disorder

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