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Fire chief pleads for an end to ‘senseless’ onslaught

GROWING CONCERN: Davy Harbinson, Assistant Group Commander, North and West Belfast, with Sinn Féin councillor JJ Magee GROWING CONCERN: Davy Harbinson, Assistant Group Commander, North and West Belfast, with Sinn Féin councillor JJ Magee
By Conor McParland

THE Assistant Group Commander of the Fire and Rescue Service in North and West Belfast has called for the New Lodge community to end “senseless” attacks on his firefighters.
Davy Harbinson is appealing to the local community through the North Belfast News for anyone with influence within the New Lodge to speak to the young people involved.
On Saturday night, fire crews came under attack on three separate occasions in Pinkerton Walk and North Queen Street as they were called into the area to deal with emergency calls.
In 2019, there have been a total of 29 attacks on the fire service in North and West Belfast, with nine incidents alone in the New Lodge area.
Assistant Group Commander Harbinson explained: “There has been a substantial amount of attacks on our firefighters, particularly in the New Lodge area.
“The attacks range from throwing stones to a firefighter injured when a bottle was thrown and a fire appliance damaged.
“Attacks on the fire service is an attack on your community.
“We are not here to spoil the young people’s fun. We are here to protect the community.
“If we have an incident in the area, the firefighters are under enough pressure to deal with the actual incident, never mind being attacked.
“We have to come into these areas and provide safety for our firefighters and at present, they are under increased danger.
“We are asking for anyone with any influence in the community to talk to these people involved and stop these senseless attacks on their fire service.”
Local Sinn Féin councillor JJ Magee backed the calls and appealed for parents to know where their children are at night time.
“I would back calls for people with influence within the community to help us,” he added. “I would also call on the parents of these young people to know where they are at nights. Don’t underestimate where your children might be as they could be attacking the fire service in the New Lodge.
“Parents need to educate their children on the dangers of being around these fires. Someone is going to get seriously injured.
“They also need to understand attacks on the fire service slows the whole process down of why they are actually in the area – to deal with a fire.
“The firefighters need full concentration when coming in to deal with a fire. They do not need in the back of their mind thinking they are going to be attacked while doing their duty.
“The community backs the fire service and we will stand up and show their support.”

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