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Alliance Party Leader, Sean Neeson has expressed his deep sorrow at the death of Constable O’Reilly, and has extended his sympathy to the family.

Mr Nesson said:

“Constable O’Reilly is a victim of the poison of naked sectarianism which flaunts itself daily on the streets of Portadown.

“I plead to all those involved in the conflict there to get round the table and to sort out their difficulties.

“Otherwise I fear that further sorrow will be inflicted on other innocent families.”

ALLIANCE Party Leader Sean Neeson has slammed whoever was responsible for last weekend’s attack at St. Comgall’s Intermediate School in Larne.

And Mr. Neeson – who is an assembly member for East Antrim – has called on the North Easter and Education and Library Board to provide security cameras at the school.

The Alliance Party Leader, a former teacher of history at the school, believes that the installation of cameras might prevent vandals from targeting the school in the future.

Mr. Neeson, who visited the ransacked school yesterday afternoon, also urged vandals to think about the “terrible consequences” of their actions.

“I would like to condemn this wanton destruction and ask these people to think about the devastating effect their actions are having on the local community,” said Mr. Neeson.

“We must not tolerate this type of behaviour and I would urge the NEELB to seriously consider the possibility of using cameras at the schools.

“I think this action is necessary because the school, which is situated in an isolated area, has been attacked on numerous occasions.

“Extensive damage has been caused at the school and as a former teacher, it breaks my heart to hear about these type of attacks.

“I hope the police are successful in apprehending the culprits and I hope we have seen the last of such attacks.

“However I will still be calling on the education board to install the cameras – sooner rather than later,” added the assemblyman.

Gerry Lynch, Chairperson of North Belfast Alliance, has branded the
Secretary of State’s Handling of the release of Guardsmen Fisher and Wright
as ‘grossly insensitive’.

Gerry said:

“The early release of prisoners is never easy, but to release these men so
close to the anniversary of Mr McBride’s death is grossly insensitive. The
insufficient notice given to the McBride family about the releases raises
very serious questions about both the NIO and the Secretary of State’s
handling of this case.

“71% of people in Northern Ireland backed the Good Friday Agreement, which
included prisoner releases. In that context the release of Messrs Wright
and Fisher was essential. However, their convictions remain, and it would
be deeply worrying if people convicted of murder were allowed to remain
serving with the armed forces.”

A LEADING member of the Alliance Party has condemned whoever was responsible for last Saturday’s bomb blast in Banbridge.

And North Down assembly member Eileen Bell, who is the Alliance Party’s Chairperson, also urged politicians to realise that peace would not happen “overnight”.

Mrs. Bell said:

“I am appalled at the actions of the thugs who carried out this awful attack in Banbridge last Saturday. When will they realise that their actions serve no purpose at all?

“We must recognise that there are those who are determined to wreck the Good Friday agreement and the new assembly – but they must not be allowed to succeed.

“And now that we have a chance of working together – we must work even harder to ensure that the nightmare of the last 30 years does not happen again.

“We must all face with realism the task that we now have and we must vigorously oppose those who are determined to carry out such appalling acts of terrorism.

“The agreement and the assembly is the only chance that we have of moving forward and I would urge all politicians do everything in their power to persuade those who are committed to violence to pursue the path of peace and democracy.”

A LOCAL Councillor has hit out at whoever was responsible for the recent spate of violence which flared in the Donegall Pass and Sandy Row areas of South Belfast.

And the Alliance Party’s Tom Ekin, who is a councillor for the Balmoral area of South Belfast, has confirmed that he will be calling on Belfast City Council chiefs to launch a major clean-up operation of the two areas.

The Alliance Councillor also said that Belfast City Council must do “everything in its power” to enhance the image of both areas.

“The apparent celebrations of the Battle of the Somme in the Donegall Pass and Sandy Row areas of South Belfast in recent days can only be viewed with the utmost contempt,” said the Alliance Councillor.

“The thrashing of streets, the wrecking of roads and the destruction in both areas was completely unwarranted.

“Both areas have been destroyed and the negative image being portrayed around the world will undoubtedly have economic implications.

“That’s why I feel that the Council should make moves to address this problem immediately. It is essential that image of both areas is drastically improved.

“We must make sure that the re-generation of both areas is a priority with the Council

“I think a major clean-up operation is one way of addressing this problem and I believe that the residents of both areas would strongly support this plan. The good families of both areas must be allowed to live in peace,” added Mr. Ekin.

EVEN though the image of Carrickfergus may have been damaged by the recent outbreak of violence which swept through Northern Ireland, a leading member of the Alliance Party has called on the people of the borough to “look to the future”.

Alderman Stewart Dickson – who stood as an East Antrim candidate in last month’s shadow Assembly election – said it was vital for the people of Carrick to remove the “dark spectre of sectarianism”.

And Mr. Dickson, a health spokesperson for the Alliance Party, has also described the intimidation and violence which flared in Carrickfergus as a form of “nazism” and “ethnic cleansing”.

The former Mayor of Carrickfergus is now calling on the people of the borough to “all they can” to improve the image of their area. He said that any hope of future investment and potential job creation in the borough lay “purely” with the people and local politicians.

But Mr. Dickson also pointed out that further outbreaks of violence would leave Carrickfergus “lagging behind” other towns in the province. He added that, with the new Assembly, it was now time for the people of Carrickfergus to move forward.

“The events which flared after the Drumcree stand-off in Portadown cast a long and dark shadow over the borough of Carrickfergus,” said the Alliance Councillor.

“Violence, mayhem, disorder and blatant sectarianism were all to evident in this borough in recent days. The intimidation which occurred in Carrickfergus can only be described as a sickening act of ethnic cleansing.

“Many Catholic families in the borough were intimidated, but many police officers in the town were also victimised by people who can only be described as thugs and animals.

“And at the height of the violence, what type of image was the borough portraying? An image where local hooligans had the authority to place young children at the burning barricades and road blockades. An image of sectarianism, hatred and bigotry.

“That’s why the recent levels of intimidation and attacks witnessed in Carrickfergus must not be allowed to happen again. We must fight against this hatred and we must do it together,” he said.

The Carrickfergus Councillor is also adamant that the people of the borough must do everything in their power to heal division and promote cross-community dialogue.

Mr. Dickson said: “We must not be allowed to forget about the victims of the past few weeks. They have suffered at the hands of evil and despicable thugs and we must all help them. It is clear that we must offer the hand of friendship.

“If we want to improve the image of our borough then we can start by showing the victims of intimidation that we care. It is essential that they don’t feel isolated at this moment. The thugs must not be allowed to win.”

And, in a further development, the Alliance Councillor has spoken of his contact with Americans who expressed concern about the situation in Northern Ireland and with Carrickfergus in particular.

“I have been inundated with calls from people in Carrick’s sister town in America. The people of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, were disgusted at the images on their television screens.

“They were genuinely concerned about the outbreaks of violence and intimidation, but what do I tell them now?

“Just before the referendum on May 22, American newspapers such as the New York Times painted a positive image of the town detailing its historical and cultural value to Northern Ireland.

“However, it is essential that we repair the image of this community. Carrick has great prospects and great potential. It must not be allowed to be destroyed by a small minority who are hell bent on causing death, destruction and mayhem,” said the Alliance man.

FOLLOWING last night’s outbreak of violence in the small County Down fishing village of Kilkeel, a senior member of the Alliance Party has urged the local Protestant community to “fully support” their Catholic neighbours.

And Dr. Philip McGarry, who is the Alliance Party President, said it was imperative that members of the local Protestant clergy show “total solidarity” with the village’s small Catholic community.

The Alliance man also urged members of the Protestant clergy to do “everything in their power” to prevent further outbreaks of sectarian violence.

“Catholic communities in towns like Kilkeel and Carrickfergus at the present time feel isolated and threatened,” said the former Belfast City Councillor.

“They are aware that the security forces have been unable to maintain their rule of law and they have grave fears about will happen over the coming weekend.

“I would also like to say that the Alliance Party welcomes recent contributions made by the main Church leaders. However, it is essential that local Protestant clergy are also active.

“I would further ask the local Protestant clergy in areas where there has been violence and intimidation against Roman Catholics, to show support for their neighbours in a direct and practical fashion,” he added.

Dr. McGarry also urged members of the local Protestant clergy to “actively seek” to ensure that there is no repetition of the violence which, he claims is, “spiralling out of control”.

Alliance Deputy Leader and Lisburn Councillor Seamus Close has condemned those who planted the car bomb in Lisburn this afternoon.

Seamus Close said:

“We must all be thankful that this device was dealt with safely, saving the people who live and work in Lisburn from danger.

“The planting of this bomb is a clear demonstration that there are those within our society who remain intent on following an agenda of death and destruction. These people are terrified that Northern Ireland might be beginning to move towards a future where the only thing they offer – a future without hope – is rejected and isolated.

“The best way to bend them a message that Northern Ireland does want a future with hope is to endorse the Agreement in the May 22 Referendum.

Alliance Chief Whip, Alderman Sean Neeson, has condemned this mornings’ petrol bomb attack in Larne as a blatantly sectarian act of attempted murder.

Mr Sean Neeson said:

“I am deeply concerned at the growing regularity of sectarian attacks in Larne and other parts of East Antrim.

“It is clear that there are groups of people who are hell-bent on creating sectarian division, especially as we near a possible political settlement.

“While the police have increased resources on the ground throughout East Antrim, these cowardly acts can only be brought to an end when the people responsible are brought to justice.”

Alliance Deputy Leader, Alderman Sean Neeson, has condemned today’s bomb attack in Portadown.

Alderman Neeson said:

“I condemn without reservation this disgraceful attack, which is clearly not only an attack on the homes and livelihoods of ordinary people, but an attack on the integrity of the Talks process.”