Attack on Alliance office is attack on society. #notinmyname

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Reacting to the news that the constituency office of Trevor Lunn MLA, of the Alliance Party was attacked this morning in Lisburn, John O’Neill, Chair of the Northern Ireland Liberal Democrats said:

“As Northern Ireland looks forward to one of its most busy festive periods, the attack on Trevor Lunn’s office reminds us that there are still people who want to inflict their evil on the rest of society who are preparing for the warmth of the season.

“We, as Liberal Democrats, stand for the rights of all to be heard, but violence is not the way forward. The ordinary people of Northern Ireland will not tolerate any attempt to take us back to the dark days of the troubles. The attacks are not in my name.

Explosion in Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter

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Police Service of Northern IrelandThis evening there was a small explosion in Belfast’s busy Cathedral Quarter where there are many restaurants and bars where there will have been many out on work parties for Christmas.

The Police Service has confirmed that it was caused by a bomb, but no further detail is available as yet.

The Northern Ireland Liberal Democrats fully support the police and army in their roles in investigating the security alert this evening. We can be thankful that there are no reports of anyone hurt on this occasion.

Tonight’s incident reminds us all that we should be looking out for suspicious objects and that we must report any to the police as soon as possible.

Shooting in Newry —those responsible must face full force of law

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This morning a shooting in Newry is brought to our attention by the BBC.

As with many other people, we in the Northern Ireland Liberal Democrats abhor the violence that is still being visited on the people of Northern Ireland.

I hope that the man who was attacked in the Parkhead Crescent area of the city and suffered injury to his stomach and knee will make a full recovery.

The staff of Northern Ireland’s health service so often have to look after those affected by such mindless violence. I know we all will thank them.

I call on anyone with any information about this and all other attacks to contact the PSNI as soon as possible and help them to rid the streets of the criminal or criminals behind this cruel attack. Those who persist in such violence must feel the full force of the law on them.

A peaceful and shared society: is it too much to hope for?

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I remember exactly where I was the morning after loyalist paramilitaries declared a ceasefire in October 1994. I was at a conference for sixth-formers from across the island of Ireland held at Campbell College in East Belfast. The conference was entitled, “Ireland: the next hundred years”. When it was being planned no-one could have known that it would be held the morning after the loyalist ceasefire. It changed everything.

Today, nineteen years and one month on, we are meant to be in a peaceful Northern Ireland. But are we?

The chairman of the Police Federation has said that he believes that one of the loyalist paramilitary groupings is no longer keeping its ceasefire. Terry Spence said: 

“The UVF have been engaged in murder, attempted murder of civilians, attempted murder of police officers, they’ve been engaged in orchestrating violence on our streets, and it’s very clear to me that there engaged in an array of mafia-style activities.”

This morning we heard on the news about an attack on a fifteen-year-old in Coleraine, County Londonderry. The boy was shot in both legs by a gang of masked men, one of whom was armed with a baseball bat as well.

Over the weekend, the Mayor of North Down, Cllr Andrew Muir of the Alliance Party expressed concern about a poster from paramilitary organisations stating that they will severely deal with perpetrators of crimes.

Is this the best we can hope for?

I know that this is not the best that we can have in Northern Ireland. Those who are attempting to “police” their own areas by shooting fifteen-year-olds, by threatening posters, are not the guardians of the peace that they seem to think they are. The real guardians of the peace are the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

It is they who have been arresting those behind the riots and disorder that Northern Ireland has seen in the last 12 months. Today, they released images of individuals that they want to speak to, Detective Superintendant Sean Wright, the Senior Investigating Officer explained,

“In the past 12 months, police officers have dealt with a number of episodes of serious disorder on the streets of Northern Ireland. We have been clear from the outset that there would be consequences for individuals who seek to engage in illegal activity and we have been carrying out a thorough investigation to identify those involved and make them amenable for their actions.

I call on anyone with any information about these images and all other crimes including the shooting in Coleraine to get in touch with the PSNI. It is only by doing that those who act in a criminal way will feel the  force of the law. And what is important is that it is done in a fair, normal and legal manner. That is by the police, the prosecution service and the courts. It is not up to some paramilitary thug to decide what is and is not acceptable.

Perhaps, each of us in our own communities needs to stand up and tell the bully boys that want to drag Northern Ireland backwards that we do not want it. There may be a lot more work to be done to bring our wee country to the real peaceful and shared society that we all want, but if we don’t try this, will those up at Stormont really help?

 

There’s a knock at the door, it’s the Police… what next?

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In the last days and weeks Northern Ireland has been hit by many bomb alerts and security alerts, many of which have turned out to be hoaxes. I doubt that many people living in the rest of the United Kingdom have any idea what this is like.

Imagine a family with young children, who are asleep at the time of the alert, being roused by a knock on the door from the Police. No, we don’t want to speak to anyone here – but there is a bomb alert at the bottom of your street. We need to evacuate you.

Where do you go?

Well fortunately, in many cases local Councils open up leisure centres, or community centres to assist you. But until that alert is over, you cannot go home.

This is happening across Northern Ireland more and more, and we don’t really hear about it from our friends across in England, Wales, or Scotland. Be glad that you have not had this curse on your communities. Hopefully, the criminals, for I will not dignify them with the word ‘terrorist’ will learn that we do not want to go back to the days of violence, of mob rule, and where everyone here cannot go about their daily lives without the risk of that being disrupted.

Recent incidents include:

 

A response to the events of the evening of 8th March

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I utterly and without hesitation condemn the orchestrated mob violence in Glengormley on the evening of Fri 8th March, which culminated in injury to several PSNI officers and an attack on the premises of the office of David Ford MLA, which resulted in damage to a neighbouring, unassociated business.

This is the latest in a four-month series of attacks on, and threats to, elected Alliance representatives. It is worthy to note that this attack comes a day after Alliance raised its vote in Mid-Ulster by 23%. Further demonstration, if any were needed, of the dichotomy between the democratic process and the politics of the street, and between those who respectively practice them.

We in the Northern Ireland Liberal Democrats are, as always, proud to stand alongside our sister party.

 

Violence and fire-lighting is not the way forward #standingwithstewart

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Coat of Arms of Belfast City Council

Coat of Arms of Belfast City Council (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My thoughts and prayers are with all Alliance Party representative and their staff at this difficult time following the decision by Belfast City Council to fly the Union Flag on designated days.

Reports are coming in this evening that a constituency office for Stewart Dickson MLA, the Alliance representative for East Antrim has been set on fire. According to the BBC the Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service are at the scene.

As with the protest yesterday that forced Naomi Long MP‘s office to close early, all that these actions will do will be to stop local people from getting the assistance that they so often need with benefit queries, housing, social care needs, passport applications, and other local issues that they so often need help with. The thugs and criminals that have done this must be caught by the Police Service of Northern Ireland and brought to justice.

If any public representative has urged people to come out on to the street and protest, I suggest that he thinks again about the wisdom of this. The matter of the Union Flag has been dealt with by the body responsible in one local government district – Belfast City Council. It is outrageous for so many so-called Loyalists to be protesting in areas of Northern Ireland which are specifically affected by the decision.

I call on anyone with any information to pass it to the PSNI as soon as possible, that the real scum who have done this are brought before the courts.

 

TV Switchover – beware of new bogus caller scam

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I have become aware of a new bogus caller scam that has been taking place in Northern Ireland. As we are about to be changing over from analogue to digital television later in the autumn here, some criminals have been taking advantage of this in trying to gain access to premises.

According to the PSNI,

There have been a number of reports of bogus callers trying to trick their way into houses by saying that they are making preparations for the householder to receive digital satellite channels on their television sets. The ‘digital switchover’ means soon you will no longer be able to receive an analogue signal and will only be able to watch a television with a built-in digital receiver, a digital set-top box or subscribe to a satellite or cable service. Anyone calling at a home to do any work in connection to this would not be doing so without prior arrangement with the householder.

I therefore urge all householders to exercise caution if they have any unplanned or suspicious caller at your house. The police advise you to call them on 0845 600 8000 to report the incident. If you require assistance from the police in an emergency, please call 999.

I ask all readers to alert older family members and friends who do not use the internet to this scam. Thank you.

 

Help us all by telling PSNI about those who plant hoax devices

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Police Service of Northern Ireland

Police Service of Northern Ireland (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Thankfully the evacuation of Omagh Police Station last night was due to a hoax device. Sadly, even hoax devices can be used to create terror in the lives of our police and of our communities across Northern Ireland. I call on anyone with any information about those who plant hoax devices and real devices to contact the PSNI about this. It is essential that those responsible are brought before the courts for justice.

The PSNI can be contacted on 0845 600 8000 for non-emergency reporting. In an emergency do phone 999.

Originally published on Michael Carchrie Campbell

those who create terror must not be let to win

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Police Service of Northern Ireland

Badge of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

With reports from Chris Lindsay, BBC journalist on NewsLine that Omagh Police station is being evacuated due to a suspicious package,

I sincerely hope and pray that nothing untoward is found. My thoughts are with all serving our community in the Police Service of Northern Ireland at this time. Those who continually seek to create terror in Northern Ireland need to know that we will not put up with this. You will be found by the PSNI and brought before the courts.

Originally posted at Michael Carchrie Campbell.