IN FULL: Trade union leaders praise bravery of police amid loyalist rioting

A trade union umbrella body has praised the bravery of police officers who have staffed the front line of riots in loyalist areas.

Thursday, 8th April 2021, 12:02 pm
Updated Thursday, 8th April 2021, 12:15 pm

A trade union umbrella body has praised the bravery of police officers who have staffed the front line of riots in loyalist areas.

It comes as a rally was staged at Belfast City Hall in response to the ongoing violence of the past several days, which have seen vehicles hijacked and burned and police petrol bombed.

The statement, from the Irish Congress of Trade Unions’ NI Committee, reads as follows (in full):

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Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 8th April 2021 Translink bus drivers bring Belfast city centre to a stand still. Last night a hijacked bus was set alight at the junction of Lanark Way and the Shankill Road following a protest, with crowds gathering there and at West Circular Road at its junction with the Springfield Road. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

Speaking after a spontaneous act of protest and solidarity by Translink workers at Belfast City Hall, ICTU Assistant General Secretary Owen Reidy commented:

“The trade union movement entirely supports this protest by our public transport workers.

“Theirs is an act of generosity towards their fellow bus driver who was shockingly attacked last evening and a towards the brave police officers and journalists who were also assaulted while doing their job and serving the community.

“Workers across Northern Ireland will not accept being the subject of attacks when going about their duties. The Translink workers are standing up and proclaiming this loudly.

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 8th April 2021 Translink bus drivers bring Belfast city centre to a stand still. Last night a hijacked bus was set alight at the junction of Lanark Way and the Shankill Road following a protest, with crowds gathering there and at West Circular Road at its junction with the Springfield Road. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

“This has to stop and it has to stop now. All public representatives from across the community and every person of goodwill and influence in interface areas have to make clear that all such protests end before we have another night of violence.

“Young people are being treated as cannon fodder. Someone is going to get killed.

“The best public service any decent person of influence can do right now is to prevent the spiral deepening. Politicians need to come together, work together and make politics work in the interest of the entire community.”

NIC-ICTU chair Alison Millar, who is also the leader of NI’s largest public sector union NIPSA, added:

“This morning, the debris from last evening is being swept up by public servants from all communities.

“Health workers are treating the wounds of injured police officers and a transport worker. Social workers, teachers and community support staff are dealing with the aftermath among young people caught up in the chaos.

“The bus workers in Translink, like many are essential workers and have stepped up to the mark during this pandemic. What matters now is that all of those workers get the support of all public representatives and that real leadership is displayed.”

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