Northern Ireland news

Senior republican says police have been `slow' to move on Springfield Road violence

Senoir republican Sean Murray (right) confronts rioters on Lanark Way and prevents them from blocking the Road. Picture by Mal McCann
Marie Louise McConville

Senior republican Sean Murray last night said police have been "slow to react" to the ongoing violence on the Springfield Road this week.

Mr Murray, who is chairman of the Clonard Resident's Association, said police had adopted a "reactive" response when it should be "proactive".

The well-known republican has been on the Springfield Road near the Lanarak Way interface in an attempt to calm the tension in recent nights.

On Thursday, he was among a group of representatives who removed a barricade which had been erected by rioters across the Springfield Road.

Mr Murray said he and other volunteers had been gathering to create a "buffer zone" and to try and "reassure people" in the Springfield Road and Clonard areas.

However, he said police needed to change their approach and move to "take that ground" at Lanark Way and "take it early".

"They have been slow to react and they need to take that ground and take it early," he said.

"Don't let large groups of youths gather. Break them up.

"Learn from the experience of years ago. Create that sterile zone".

Mr Murray said "proactive" policing was needed, not "reactive".

He said it wasn't "acceptable" that community workers were being expected to handle the situation and police needed to "take initiative".

Assistant Chief Constable Jonathan Roberts said: “We have been liaising with community representatives throughout the recent disorder to address this activity from a range of aspects. Unfortunately the circumstances that create disorder are complex and often cannot be addressed by police alone.

"We welcome feedback from representatives of the community and are committed to working with all interested parties to bring an end to this disorder and find ways to prevent future occurrences."

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