Lanark Way rioting ‘arranged on social media’ reveals community worker| PSNI accused of ‘heavy handedness with angry youths’ | spectators travel across Belfast to see violence
Trouble in Lanark Way last night was “arranged on social media” a youth worker has revealed.
Community worker Isaac Andrews said: “Last night again was arranged on social media where these faceless people ‘winded up’ young people to go to Lanark way.
“It was not an official protest, but one organised on social media.
“The thing is there are people doing their best to stop people from getting involved in this and trying to encourage them to move off.
“And unforunately there are also sight-seers who travel from all over to see what is going on and to see if the crowd is building. And then more local people arrive...”
Mr Andrews said whilst “there was some violence it was not at the level of the past week or two but the PSNI put an operation in place and dealt with them”.
“But there were some concerns around how they dealt with that but some people on the ground thought it was more forceful than it needed to be,” he added.
“We had to talk to a number of parents after it.”
A PSNI spokesman said: “The police response to disorder at Lanark Way was appropriate and proportional in the face of youths barricading the road and attempting to injure officers.
“Officers are happy to speak to anyone with regard to policing in their local areas.”
Mr Andrews added that those involved in the violence “were in their late teens and were not kids”.
“It was a very small number (15-20) but there were bystanders watching it.
“People are trying to talk to young people to get them not to follow the stuff on social media. We are doing our best to keep them away from these interface areas.”
“There is a lot of comment about the youths involved being ‘scum’ and they take that on board. They are not scum and I don’t like them taking comments like that on board.
“We don’t know what they are going through in their lives. They are young still and can get educated because they have their whole lives ahead of them.
“The other protest outside Belfast was peaceful. It went very well and showed us what can be done,”
Earlier retired boxing champion Carl Frampton said Northern Ireland’s politicians need to provide a “united voice” to ease tensions and help young people in working class areas.
The fighter, who grew up in Tiger’s Bay in north Belfast, spoke this morning on BBC Radio Ulster.
He said he was angry and frustrated after seeing recent violence involving loyalist and nationalist youths.
And the recently retired boxer said that more investment and leadership was needed for such areas.
But it would not be an “easy fix”.
Admitting that he took part in rioting in his youth, the former boxer said much of the violence is “recreational” and “there is not a lot to do in some of these areas for kids”.
“I was one of them kids and when there was a riot going on at the bottom of my street growing up in Tiger’s Bay, you got involved in it,” he said.
“Not because you were a bad kid but because you were excited by it and there literally was not much else to do.”
Dozens of police officers were injured in several nights of rioting in Londonderry, Belfast, Newtownabbey, Carrickfergus and Ballymena during late March and early April.
The loyalist Tiger’s Bay area was one of the flashpoints.
“You’ve got a few emotions when you see stuff like that,” said Frampton.
“I think projects and money needs to be pumped into these kind of working class areas to help kids with educational programmes, whatever it may be, with jobs, with opportunities and this can be sorted out.
“I wouldn’t say it’s an easy fix but I think that a united voice from politicians, especially on this matter, and it can be repaired.”
Discussing his post-retirement plans, Frampton said he would consider setting up a foundation or engaging with community projects to help young people in working class areas.
“Places like Tiger’s Bay where I’m from and Poleglass where my wife’s from, and the New Lodge, Falls, Shankill, wherever - I want to give back and help kids really and give kids opportunities,” he said.
“Hopefully that can be something that I can think about in the future.”
Frampton announced his retirement from boxing after he was stopped by Jamel Herring in a WBO super-featherweight contest on 3 April.
He had been bidding to become Ireland’s first three-weight world champion.
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