DEPUTY First Minister Martin McGuinness has said that two senior UVF figures involved in orchestrating the violence in East Belfast are well known drugs pushers. Speaking during a debate at Stormont yesterday on recent violence Mr McGuinness added that some of those involved were associated with the BNP and were to ” some degree sectarian bigot’s “.

Violence in east Belfast on Saturday saw 29 police officers injured when trouble erupted between loyalists and nationalists close to the Short Strand. There was also violence on Friday night in Carrickfergus and Newtownabbey. Mr McGuinness, however, remains optimistic that a solution can be found and cited the political solidarity in the wake of dissident republican murders as an example of how a solution to the present impasse could be worked out. ” I think that the solution can be found in the example that was shown by all the political parties in the aftermath of the murder of two soldiers at Massereene ; the murder of Stephen Carroll and the murder of Ronan Kerr,” he said. ” What works for us is the sight of all the political parties standing together against those who believe that violence has a way forward.” Short Strand NEEDS YOUR SUPPORT !

He said those involved in the violence were challenging the political institutions. ” A challenge from people who do not have a mandate and who represent nobody but themselves,” he said. He said those involved in disorder did not speak for the vast majority of unionists. ” It is also quite clear that the Ulster Volunteer Force ( UVF ) in East Belfast have played their part in the disturbances over the course of the last couple of weeks to the point where two of its leadership, who are well known drug pushers in east Belfast, have been the main instigators,” he said. ” Their organisation was involved in the attempted murder of a young police officer sitting in her car outside the officers of Naomi Long.”The deputy first minister said political leadership needed to be given : ” We all need to stand together and I absolutely believe that the PSNI need to do their job.”

First Minister Peter Robinson described the rioters as ” the enemies of democracy “. He also claimed the Union flag dispute was being exploited by elements seeking to destroy the peace process. ” This issue will never be solved on the streets but only through democratic means,” the DUP leader said. ” You do not respect a Union flag if you are using it as a weapon to charge against someone – you are not showing respect for the Union flag if you need to wear a mask when carrying it.” The bill for policing the dispute has reached £7 million  To date 101 police officers have been injured and more than 100 people have been arrested.Justice minister David Ford said the Union flag protest had renewed sectarianism. ” We have seen 100 police officers injured and many others injured or put in fear,” the Alliance leader said. ” We have seen the damage to inward investment, we have seen young people being given a criminal record which will damage their prospects for life.”



FIRST MINISTER Peter Robinson, pictured above, has again failed to engage directly with readers of the Irish NewsTwo of the region’s morning papers yesterday carried a platform piece from the DUP leader addressing recent flag protests and loyalist unrest.

In both the Belfast Telegraph and the News Letter, the item was presented as being authored by Peter Robinson First Minister, rather than in the East Belfast MLA’s role as DUP leader. However, the address from the first minister, who represents all Northern Ireland’s citizens, was not offered to The Irish News. A spokesperson for the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister said the decision to overlook the Irish News was “a matter for the DUP press office “. Irish News editor Noel Doran said : ” If Peter Robinson is acting as first minister, rather than as DUP leader, it is reasonable to expect that he would make at least some effort to be even-handed in his approach. ” However, despite a series of requests, he has continued to exclude the Irish News from every round of interviews he arranges.” Mr Doran said it appeared the first minister did not wish to engage with readers of the Irish News. ” The invitation to speak to an Irish News journalist remains on the table and we will continue to provide firm, fair and comprehensive political coverage with or without his input,” he said.



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