TROUBLE ERUPTS AT NORTH BELFAST BONFIRE AS YOUTHS ATTACK POLICE LINES

POLICE have been attacked with fireworks, bottles and wood as they surrounded an anti-internment bonfire in the New Lodge area of north Belfast.

The police said it attended the bonfire to “support contractors” who are removing it from a road.

Two young people had climbed on top of the bonfire and refused to come down.

However, one has since come down but the other is refusing to come down.

Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly is in the area talking to police.

Politicians from Sinn Féin and the SDLP have raised concerns about the “unwanted” anti-internment bonfire and called for its removal.

On 8 August, anti-internment bonfires are lit in some republican areas to commemorate the introduction of internment without trial of republican suspects, which was brought in by the British government in 1971.

The police said it was in attendance at Queens Parade to “support contractors who have been tasked by the landowner to remove a bonfire from the road”.

“We are endeavouring to support the contractors to complete this task in a timely manner, with minimum disruption to the community,” the PSNI said in a statement.

“We would ask for the community’s patience and support as the area is made safe.”

In 2017, wood was removed from the bonfire over concerns it was too close to nearby buildings.

On Wednesday, SDLP councillor Paul McCusker called for the bonfire’s removal after it emerged that threatening graffiti had appeared on the wall of a nearby family centre.

The graffiti warnings, which are being investigated by police, stated “our wood goes this centre goes” and “contractors beware”.

On Twitter, Sinn Féin MLA Carál Ní Chuilín said the “bonfire isn’t wanted” and that “all the criminal behaviour needs to be dealt with” by the police and statutory bodies.

“I’m not long back after visiting residents again and it’s clear the local families of those involved need to sit with the residents who are afraid and intimidated.”

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