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CofI Primate dismayed by Belfast violence and disorder

By Sarah Mac Donald - 17 July, 2013

Abusing or endangering the lives of PSNI officers "wholly unacceptable".

The Church of Ireland Primate, along with two bishops who oversee dioceses in Northern Ireland, has condemned the violence which erupted in Belfast over the Twelfth of July weekend.

In a statement, Dr Richard Clarke, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, was joined by Bishop Harold Miller of Down & Dromore and Bishop Alan Abernethy of Connor in expressing their dismay at “the scenes of violence and disorder which have taken place over the past few days, marring the Twelfth weekend.”

They were speaking as “Christian leaders in Northern Ireland who believe in grace and the building of a peaceful and hopeful future here.”

The Anglican prelates said it was important to stress that it is “wholly unacceptable to abuse or endanger the lives of the PSNI in their role in upholding the rule of law.”

They urged the people of Belfast to find new ways of dealing with difficult issues through meaningful engagement.

“We need to talk now and not leave it too late. We, for our part, are willing to offer help and support to any such sincere processes of mediation and dialogue within our communities,” they said.

Their statement was made in the wake of a number of pipe bomb attacks in north and east Belfast on the fourth night of violence in the city. One pipe bomb was thrown at police from a nationalist area in north Belfast but no one was injured. The attack was condemned by Sinn Féin, the SDLP and the DUP.

PSNI spokesperson Emma Bond said the police considered themselves “extremely fortunate” that they were not dealing with a much more serious incident.

Meanwhile, PSNI Assistant Chief Constable, Will Kerr, described some of the disorder perpetrated by loyalists and Orangemen as “visceral” and “almost animalistic”. He also accused those behind the attacks of “attempted murder”.

More than 40 PSNI officers were injured in the violence.

By Sarah Mac Donald

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