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Recreational riots arranged on internet must be stopped before marching season

By Kieran Hughes

A recent upsurge in interface clashes organised on the internet have led to calls for police to step up their monitoring of the area ahead of a planned Tour of the North parade. Over the past three weekends ‘recreational rioting’ between gangs of youths on the Limestone Road and Alexandra Park has been on the rise with clashes being organised through social networking websites.

The Tour of the North parade takes place next Friday night (June 22) but under a Parades Commission ruling released yesterday (Wednesday) has been prohibited from entering part of the notified route along Clifton Park Avenue and Duncairn Gardens between Antrim Road and Edlingham Street.

Local community worker Kevin Murphy said the clashes need to be brought to a swift end before the marching season begins in earnest.

“We are coming up to the Tour of the North and we don’t want any issues, especially in this shared space in the park,” he said.

Last year a peace gate was installed in the peace wall in Alexandra Park to allow local residents access to both parts of the park. The peace wall was erected in 1994 and the park is the only one in Western Europe to be divided in two.

“We are hoping to extend the peace gate and we have come too far in our efforst to get away from the bad days of years ago. This is only a small group of teenagers, young ones who have nothing better to do. This needs to be nipped in the bud now and I am calling on police to step up in the area,” added Kevin Murphy.

Local Sinn Féin coucnillor Conor Maskey called on the police to address the recent increase in violence.

“There has been a lot of good work going on over a number of years to reduce tensions at the interface and we will be raising the recent upsurge with police because ultimately this is a policing matter,” he said.

“Parents should ensure that sinister elements aren’t using their kids as a cover for violence. The vast majority of young people in our district are good young people and are involved in positive activity and we should always have that at the forefront of our minds.”

A PSNI spokesperson warned that anyone posting inappropriate comments on the internet could face prosecution.

“Police do not monitor internet sites on a day-to-day basis,” she said.

“However, we will take appropriate action when we receive complaints of on-line behaviour/activity that is linked to inciting violence. People should be aware that posting inappropriate comments on social media networks could lead to offences of improper use contrary to the Communications Act 2003.”

She added that police are working alongside the community to support a shared space initiative in Alexandra Park.

“Everyone can play a part in making Alexandra Park a safe and cared for environment to be enjoyed by everyone,” said the police spokeswoman.

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