FOUR PSNI INJURED AS IRA BRIGHTON BOMBER TALKS IN EAST BELFAST

IRA Brighton bomber Patrick Magee speaking inside the Skainos Centre with Jo Berry

IRA Brighton bomber Patrick Magee speaking inside the Skainos Centre with Jo Berry

THE PSNI say four police officers suffered minor injuries during trouble outside an east Belfast community centre where IRA bomber Patrick Magee was visiting.

Angry loyalists threw fireworks and stones at the Skainos on the Newtownards Road B Brighton bomber Magee was a guest speaker.

Up to 60 loyalists gathered at the church-run building saying they didn’t want an “IRA bomber coming into east Belfast”.

At one point protestors tried to storm into the building after Magee was slipped in through a back door with Jo Berry, whose father Sir Anthony was killed in the IRA bomb attack on the Grand Hotel in Brighton in 1982.

They were there as guests as part of a festival called Listening To Your Enemies.

Police said they threw stones and four police officers suffered minor injuries.

The windows of two police vehicles were also smashed.

Following the event on Thursday evening, more stones were thrown and police lines came under fire.

Detectives have now launched an investigation into the disturbances and also a graffiti attack on the building when ‘NO IRA BOMBER’ was daubed in black paint panes of glass.

East Belfast Alliance MP Naomi Long condemned the violence.

She said: “There can be no justification for the violence that has occurred. I would appeal for calm in the area.

“The event at the Skainos centre is part of a dialogue that should be allowed to take place.

“It is important that everybody respects the rights of those who wish to take part in reconciliation events, and that they are allowed to do so without such negative scenes as we have seen tonight.

“It is deeply disappointing that this trouble has occurred at an event which is aimed at breaking down the barriers in our society.”

Local community worker Jim Wilson said people were entitled to their views.

However, Mr Wilson said those protesting should have expressed their views in a peaceful manner.

“They should do it in a proper manner if they have disagreements with the church or with anyone within loyalism,” he said.

Rev Gary Mason, from the east Belfast mission, said: “The police were out first thing this morning and they have looked at it.

“We have video evidence as well because this is a new site so there are a number of security cameras so the folk that did that are on camera.”

In recent years, Magee has been associated with projects that work with groups specialising in conflict resolution, reconciliation and victim support.

Police are treating the Skainos graffiti incident as a hate crime.

Following the meeting, Jo Berry tweeted: “Incredible powerful evening, so much love acceptance bravery courage in room. Fantastic audience.”

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