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Friday, 16 August, 2002, 08:38 GMT 09:38 UK
Empey call over Belfast violence
Workers clear up after another night of violence
Workers clear up after another night of violence
Economy minister Reg Empey is seeking a meeting with the Northern Ireland security minister following the latest violence in Belfast.

The Ulster Unionist assembly member wants to discuss the ongoing violence in the east of the city.

Sir Reg said he wanted a review of police tactics in the Short Strand area and for security forces to maintain a 24 hour presence in the area, similar to that in nearby Cluan Place.

Sectarian tensions at one of the area's flashpoints erupted into a fresh outbreak of rioting on Thursday night.

The police said 13 officers were injured during the disturbances and six plastic baton rounds were fired.

A spokesman said police were attacked by a crowd of about 300 in the Clandeboye Gardens area with petrol bombs, bricks, acid bombs and fireworks.

Sir Reg: Wants review of police tactics
Sir Reg: Wants review of police tactics
Rival mobs also launched petrol bomb attacks across the peaceline separating Protestants and Catholics.

Police said around 200 gathered on either side were hurling missiles.

An ambulance was sent to the area, although no injuries were confirmed.

East Belfast Democratic Unionist MP Peter Robinson has also urged a permanent police presence in the Short Strand.

He said: "Police are right to identify republicans as having started trouble in this area but the question is how do you stop that cycle?

"The fact is trouble will continue until police take possession of the Short Strand.

"They must go in and maintain a presence in a bid to stop republicans gathering in the area and continuing nightly attacks. The Short Strand must not be allowed to continue as a no-go area."

Sinn Fein said it intended to ask the Police Ombudsman to investigate the police handling of the violence in the area.

Party chairman Mitchel McLaughlin said: "We want Nuala O'Loan to investigate this because the PSNI are telling us that these pipe bombs didn't come from the loyalist side of the community."


The scene after four or five hours of constant attack was one of complete devastation

Joe O'Donnell
Sinn Fein

The volatile area has seen loyalists in Cluan Place and nationalists in the Short Strand targeting each other for months.

Sinn Fein councillor Joe O'Donnell said he tried to restore calm in his community on Thursday.

"This area came under a prolonged and horrific attack from loyalists from a number of different positions," he said.

"The area was attacked... with a barrage of blast bombs, pipe bombs and petrol bombs."

Paramilitary ceasefires

Alfie McCrory, a community worker in the Protestant Cluan Place, said several people had been injured.

He said: "We have a woman seriously injured with a blast bomb.

"Plus, we have a 15-year-old child away to hospital... so the PSNI are failing to control the nationalists in the Short Strand."

The latest rioting comes days after 13 police officers were injured after being attacked by nationalists in the area.

Tensions at the flashpoint interface have run high throughout the summer and serious rioting in June led to a call from unionist politicians for the government to review all paramilitary ceasefires.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC NI's Noreen Erskine:
"East Belfast was once again clearing up after a night of trouble"
BBC NI's Noreen Erskine:
"Police say two suspect devices turned out to be hoaxes"
See also:

11 Aug 02 | N Ireland
08 Aug 02 | N Ireland
05 Jun 02 | N Ireland
04 Jun 02 | N Ireland
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