04/02/2003

East Belfast Forum meets police chief over tensions

An East Belfast community group has met with acting Assistant Chief Constable for Belfast, Maggie Hunter, to discuss what contingency plans the PSNI have in place to deal with any possible outbreak of violence in the area this summer.

A delegation from the Inner East Belfast Forum, a group consisting of community workers, residents and elected representatives from the area – including Ulster Unionist Sir Reg Empey – said that people in the area were anxious to ensure that the disturbances that dogged the area last year are not repeated this summer.

Sir Reg said: "There is growing frustration in the district that cameras promised for Cluan Place were not yet operational, although the group understand that there are some technical difficulties still to be resolved.”

Other issues discussed included police tactics in dealing with the trouble last year, whether to close the gates at Madrid Street, Rotterdam Court and the Lower Newtownards Road.

The delegation welcomed an assurance from ACC Hunter that there had been a review of police tactics. This was felt by group members to be "essential" if agitators were to be prevented from stirring up trouble.

The group also expressed gratitude for the work of the monitors who had overseen a quieter period in recent months.

(MB)

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