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Belfast violence condemned

11 January 2013

REUTERS

Protests continue: police take cover from youths on the New­townards Road, Belfast, on Tuesday

Protests continue: police take cover from youths on the New­townards Road, Belfast, on Tuesday

LEADERS of the main Reformed Churches in Northern Ireland have condemned the Loyalist rioting in Belfast which has resulted in injuries and death threats to police officers and one serving politician.

The riots, sparked last month by the decision of Belfast City Council to limit the flying of the Union flag over the City Hall to 15 specified dates a year, have resulted in widespread damage to property, as well as having serious implications for the local economy before and after Christmas. Business figures say it has harmed the image of the province for inward overseas investment.

PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggott said on Monday that individual members of the UVF were orchestrating violence that involved teenagers as young as 13 years old, and were blighting the lives and futures of many.

The Church of Ireland Bishop of Down & Dromore, the Rt Revd Harold Miller, said that the events left the people of the city with a deep sense of foreboding for 2013. "It is so sad to see images of division and sectarianism yet again projected to the world.

"Part of the reason we find ourselves in this dangerous time is that we have not really managed to agree a shared future together where all have a place, all cultures are respected, victims are honoured, and we can rejoice in what different communities have to bring to the common table.

"It is more than urgent for this matter to be progressed at Stormont, and the focus on a shared future needs to be given absolute priority by all of us. Otherwise, a dangerous vacuum is created which paramilitarism can fill, when underlying, and usually hidden, tensions are brought to the surface."

In the light of the recent violence, Bishop Miller asked "all of our Christian brothers and sisters, wherever they are, to pray for us: for wisdom for the Churches in what they say and live; for the grace of God to extend even to those intent on destruction."

 

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