TALKS aimed at ending the violence in east Belfast on Sunday were described as “frank and open” but “no magic wand”.
Around 30 politicians, clergymen and community representatives – including the loyal orders – gathered to discuss mounting concern over the upsurge in rioting.
At the meeting hosted by the Rev Mervyn Gibson at his Westbourne Presbyterian Church, some made allegations of police being heavy-handed.
“People saw batons being used against some who weren’t involved in the rioting,” said the Rev Gibson.
“There’s a genuine feeling that there was a change in tactics, that the gloves were off. In these instances, not everybody is a rioter.”
The Rev Gibson said some thought the allegations were an over-reaction while others said they would await the outcome of any evidence, he added.
The Rev Gibson said they would seek meetings with the Policing Board, the local police commander and the local policing partnership early this week.
The meeting was attended by Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt and party colleague Michael Copeland as well as the DUP’s Robin Newton and other unionist councillors for East Belfast.
It is understood a number of figures close to paramilitary organisations were also there.
The Rev Gibson said: “There is no magic wand. We didn’t come out with a magic solution. But we sought to get east Belfast back to some sort of normality.”
He said concerns were voiced at the number of young people involved in rioting and that someone could become seriously injured.
“There is a sense that they are enjoying the rioting. The phrase recreational rioting is overused. That does not demean the injuries caused or the damage caused because a riot is a riot.
“I have seen some very young children in the middle of these things and it is absolute madness.”