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Last Updated: Tuesday, 24 May, 2005, 07:05 GMT 08:05 UK
Fire crews seeking 'protection'
Fire engine with backdrop of broken window
Attacks on firefighters in Northern Ireland have been discussed by the Fire Brigades Union and Public Safety Minister Shaun Woodward.

In the most recent incident last week, youths filmed attacks on firefighters in Belfast with their mobile phones.

Mr Woodward said such attacks were "vicious, cowardly and criminal".

Jim Barbour from the Fire Brigades Union said a "robust package of measures" was needed to protect all members of the emergency services.

"We were always mindful that there are no quick fixes and no easy solutions in respect of attacks against emergency service workers," he said.

"They want to see a robust package of measures. We have been very conscious that a single approach - whether it's outreach, whether it's a media campaign - won't, in itself, work.

"Certainly, we want to see prosecutions and convictions where they are appropriate."

'Meeting sought'

In last week's attack, one firefighter was hit on the head with a large stone.

Mr Woodward said: "I have already made plain how appalled I am, that young people should deliberately set about luring fire and ambulance crews, into situations, to attack them.

"The perpetrators need to be caught and they need to be punished."

He said in coming weeks he wanted to meet with organisations and community leaders, to develop a new strategy to deal with "these vicious attacks".

Mr Woodward recently visited Belfast Central Fire Station, where he met firefighters and heard their concerns at first hand.

Fire crew attack 'copycat ambush'
17 May 05 |  Northern Ireland
Firefighters stoned at house fire
11 May 05 |  Northern Ireland
Fire attack 'claim' is rejected
23 Mar 05 |  Northern Ireland

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