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Tuesday, 20 August, 2002, 16:32 GMT 17:32 UK
Minister invited to flashpoint area
Workers clearing up after last week's of violence
Workers clearing up after last week's violence
An invitation has been issued to the Northern Ireland Security Minister to visit east Belfast following a meeting with Economy Minister Reg Empey.

Sir Reg invited Jane Kennedy to come to the area to see problems caused by interface violence during the talks on Tuesday.

After the hour-long meeting, an NIO spokesman said Jane Kennedy "is considering the points raised, and is considering the invitation to visit east Belfast".

Sir Reg led a delegation of Ulster Unionist Party colleagues to the talks and said such a move might help get through to the government the seriousness of the problem.


The deplorable conditions that these people are living under are totally unacceptable

Sir Reg Empey Economy minister

He also called for closed circuit television cameras in Cluan Place and reiterated his call for a permanent police presence in the republican Short Strand and loyalist areas.

"I have asked the security minister to come personally and visit the area and to see the conditions that people are living in," said the UUP minister.

"No matter what the reasons may be, the message is crystal clear. The violence has got to stop. The deplorable conditions that these people are living under are totally unacceptable.

"Furthermore, we have to question the tactics that the police are employing because these tactics have not succeeded in bringing an end to the situation."

On Friday, UUP Councillors and Assembly members from east and north Belfast are meeting to formulate a party policy for the resolution of recent street disturbances.

Tuesday's talks followed more minor disturbances on Monday night.

Rival groups threw fireworks and ball bearings across the peaceline at Cluan Place and Clandeboye Gardens.

Sir Reg: Wants review of police tactics
Sir Reg: Wants review of police tactics

Sir Reg said residents were living in "intolerable conditions".

"We have to get a solution to this problem," he said.

"Nobody can live under these circumstances on either side of this wall.

"But somebody is orchestrating this and that is the point that I want to get across. This is not just sporadic - this is organised."

Last week, the Ulster Unionist assembly member for east Belfast 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.

On Thursday night, 13 police officers were injured during disturbances and six plastic baton rounds were fired.

Volatile area

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.

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.

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

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
The UUP's Reg Empey:
"Nobody can live under these conditions, on either side of this wall"
See also:

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