Appeal for calm in East Belfast

ALLIANCE Assembly member for East Belfast Naomi Long has appealed for calm as the latest victim of loyalist violence is buried today.

Councillor Long said: “There is a lot of fear in the community that there will be more violence after the funeral of Brian Stewart today. I would appeal for everyone concerned not to allow this bad situation to deteriorate further. Another loyalist feud is the last thing the public wants, and people in East Belfast are frightened that things could escalate.

“I would also especially appeal to young people and teenagers not to allow themselves to become drawn into any paramilitary organisation. Despite what loyalist politicians may say, their paramilitary colleagues are blatantly using children as lookouts in East Belfast and issuing them with walkie-talkies.

“These teenagers are being told they are protecting their community, but the reality is that they are being dragged into the twisted world of paramilitarism. That not only makes them targets for other armed groups, but is a direct route into organised crime, since it is now clear that armed loyalist groups have no political agenda.”

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