04/09/2002

SDLP to meet police chiefs over Belfast disturbances

An SDLP delegation comprising all of its councillors and MLAs in Belfast is set to meet with police chiefs over the recent street violence in the city.

The delegation will meet with Assistant Chief Constable Alan McQuillan and the four Belfast District Commanders at 6pm this evening in Castlereagh PSNI station.

Speaking in advance of the meeting, councillor Pat Convery said: "These have been turbulent weeks for Belfast. Loyalism has been the aggressor and the best police response should be full protection of the vulnerable and prosecution of the ringleaders."

Councillor Margaret Walsh said: "The ringleaders are known, their movements can be monitored. Every opportunity to prosecute must be grasped and every conviction must be secured."

The Liberal Democrats shadow Northern Ireland secretary, Lembit Opik, who had been in the Province for a few days on a fact-finding tour, called on the government to give the police service the resources necessary to put an end to the disturbances and improve community policing services.

"The continued sectarian clashes in north and east Belfast has meant that officers and resources are being diverted to flashpoint areas, having an effect on how other crimes on Northern Ireland are dealt with," he said.

"It is essential that the police service has the proper resources to deal not only with public disorder but with theft, criminal damage, domestic violence and all other criminal incidents."

(GMcG)

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