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11/09/2006

Stone throwers damage loyalist memorial

A loyalist memorial garden in east Belfast has been damaged following disturbances between two gangs in the early hours of this morning.

The incident happened at around 1.30am on the lower Newtownards Road, when rival factions threw stones at each other.

No one was injured, however the memorial garden at Pitt Place sustained serious damage.

Police arrived at the scene and the crowds dispersed within a short time.

East Belfast Sinn Féin representative Niall Ó Donnghaile has today said that last night's interface trouble was an isolated incident that should not be used to undermine the good work which was ongoing to resolve interface tensions in the area.

He also hit out at those responsible for damaging a loyalist monument on the Newtownards Road.

Mr Ó Donnghaile said: “The type of drink fuelled violence which was evidenced last night has no place in our society.

“Over the last number of years we have seen great work being done to try and resolve the tensions around interface areas in East Belfast. Working to resolve such tensions is in the interests of everybody on both sides of the interface.

“Unfortunately, there are those politicians who seek to use such incidents to further there own political agendas. However, last night's violence was an isolated incident and I am confident that it will not deter those committed to working to resolve the interface issue.”

Speaking about the damage done to the memorial garden, Mr Ó Donnghaile said: “Last night's attack on the monument on the Newtownards Road is completely reprehensible. We must all work together, and build upon the ongoing work, to ensure that there is no repeat of this incident.”

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