‘Stay Out’ is Residents message to criminals - Adams
Sinn Fein west Belfast MP Gerry Adams and Sinn Fein Councillor Briege Brownlee this afternoon met local residents from the St. James area who were terrorised at the weekend by rioting in the area.
Mr. Adams condemned the weekend violence describing it as “unacceptable”.
He said: “The people of St. James want an end to this behaviour. And they are demanding that those from outside of the district, including those representing so-called dissident groups, stay out. And I want to echo that as strongly as I can.”
The west Belfast MP praised the efforts of Sinn Fein activists who confronted and challenged those involved in the violence. Mr. Adams said:
“While some of what happened on Friday night had a sectarian element to it most of the violence over the weekend was orchestrated by anti-social and criminal elements – many of them not from the St. James’ area.
There was drink and drugs involved and a small number of people belonging to so-called dissident groups tried to encourage the violence and were involved in bringing outsiders into the St. James area on Saturday and Sunday nights.
They attacked the PSNI and attempted to set up barriers across the Donegal Road. They also smashed their way into two local businesses and onto a building site. There was looting. Those involved are sectarian, career criminals who have no interest in politics. As a local resident said to me this morning; ‘It wasn’t anyone from the Village who broke into the store or looted or tried to erect barriers on the road.’
Sinn Féin activists removed the barriers from the road and returned cash tills that had been stolen from the KFC outlet. They also confronted and challenged the orchestrators of the violence and will continue to do so.
In Rodney Parade there are residents, many of them elderly, who are distressed by what occurred. They saw strangers coming into their street and engaging in totally unacceptable behaviour, looting and purporting to represent republicanism. That doesn’t represent republicanism.
The people of St. James want an end to this behaviour. And they are demanding that those from outside of the district, including those representing so-called dissident groups, stay out. And I want to echo that as strongly as I can.
I would appeal to parents to ensure that young people do not get caught up in this unacceptable anti-social behaviour.
There is also ongoing contact between community representatives from the Village and people from St. James to ensure that sectarian tensions are calmed”.
Sinn Féin Councillor Briege Brownlee responding to questions from the media explained that last year meetings had taken place between representatives from St. James district and the Village and Roden Street areas, and that these are continuing this year. She said; “These are working very well.”
Commenting on concerns around the 12th the Sinn Féin President said:
“Sinn Féin will use our influence to try and keep the 12th calm. I have also, as is now my tradition, written to the leaders of the marching orders asking them to meet with me.”
The west Belfast MP also criticised the use of plastic Bullets by the PSNI at the weekend. Mr. Adams said: “These are lethal force weapons. They should not be used”.
Note to editor:
There is an identified ‘hotspot’ for anti-social elements on pitches adjacent to St. Catherine’s Road in St. James. Sinn Fein has been in discussion with the PSNI and local stakeholders about this site