Former Alliance Lord Mayor of Belfast Tom Ekin has said people must follow a legal path rather than become in embroiled in apparent support for racist attacks.
Responding to protests in the Donegall Rd area last night, the Balmoral Councillor stated: “Street protests about the ethnic divide are no way to go about things. They simply raise antagonism and bring entire areas into disrepute.
“We saw plenty of anti-St Patrick’s Day Parade letters to the press and comments on the media, but when it comes to a serious issue that goes beyond symbolism all we get is silence. When are our community leadersgoing to tackle the real problems, instead of playing a constant blame game?
“Are we to assume the local people, who are by and large decent law abiding folk, really accept the thuggery of these attacks on people living in their areas? I don’t think so!
“There are many good people working hard on the ground to reduce sectarianism, racism and general negativity. They are trying to build up the inner-city disadvantaged areas, to give people a real future free from crime and violence.
“But a small minority is causing the police to be diverted from protecting the innocent, the elderly, the young, and is choosing to tackle the genuine ethnic divide developing in our society through violence and street protests.
“We had people last night complaining about alleged attacks, not a single one of which had been reported to the police.
“There is a very serious lapse on both sides of the sectarian divide in the understanding of law and order, that the police and the courts are the route to justice, and that violence and street protests merely bring shame to a whole community. Instead of blaming ‘the other side’ for this, our political leaders are going to have to deal with it among their own voters
and constituents – or move aside and let those who want to make progress to do so.”