Community calls for attacks to end

The Alliance Party office in east Belfast
The Alliance Party office in east Belfast

Two attacks on Alliance Party premises in east Belfast in two days have been condemned by a group of church, community and political representatives.

An incident earlier this week, when a Romanian man was attacked with excrement as he cycled along the Newtownards Road, was also condemned as threatening to destroy the “warm and welcoming” reputation of the area.

On Tuesday night, six petrol bombs ignited against the Newtownards Road office which was saved from more serious damage by its double glazing. The second incident took place around 11pm on Wednesday when another petrol bomb and two paint bombs were thrown.

Police said the building suffered scorch damage and that two males were spotted fleeing the scene.

In an agreed statement issued following yesterday’s meeting, the group also said it condemned all racist attacks.

“We stand united in our condemnation and plead with those involved to stop; such actions serve no purpose or cause. An attack on anyone who chooses to live, work or visit this great part of the city is an attack on us all. Such attacks jeopardise investment, jobs, tourism, and cause pain, distress and fear. Those who carry them out are enemies of this community.”

The statement added: “Any concerns people have about any issue should be articulated to politicians to address, and any political difference voiced through the ballot box at the forthcoming election. Violence is not the way forward, 40 years of terrorism has taught us that. We would encourage anyone with information about these attacks to pass it on to the PSNI.”

Alliance representatives in east Belfast have vowed to continue their work despite the intimidation.

The party’s MP for East Belfast, Naomi Long, said the attacks only served to increase their resolve to confront those “who are casting a shadow of violence” on the area.

“We will not be deterred by the continued campaign of violence and intimidation towards the Alliance Party. Those responsible for this latest attack are frightened by our determination to build a shared future in east Belfast.

“We will not be forced out of our office,” she said.

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness has accused unionists and the police of not acting strongly enough against loyalist paramilitaries following the latest attacks.

It is understood CCTV cameras may have recorded the petrol bombings. However, yesterday a police spokesman said: “At this early stage of the investigation, no CCTV is expected to be released this week.”