Father of injured officer calls for stronger action

Frontline police facing violent mobs in the North should be allowed to take stronger action against rioters, the father of a wounded officer said today.

He spoke out after police footage showed how officers tasked to contain rioters in the Ardoyne area of north Belfast came under frenzied attack, but made no arrests at the scene.

The man's daughter was injured in one of the most serious incidents of violence surrounding July 12 Orange Order parades when a cement block was dropped on her head.

Her attackers stoned other officers and paramedics who came to her aid. But senior officers have since said that their tactics were the best way to prevent loss of life and have pledged that video images of offenders would be used to arrest suspects as part of a major investigation currently under way.

The parent of the unnamed officer, who is in a stable condition in hospital, said: "Visiting my daughter in hospital made me really angry and I can't understand why they were just standing there and nobody gets arrested.

"I watched TV footage of earlier on that day and there was guys on the rooftops, they were obviously the people that were dropping the breeze blocks, why couldn't they have been arrested?

"My daughter was 15 years of age when she wanted to join the police.

"She worked in Israel and she came back and joined the police and loves the work, but when I saw her lying there last night I thought why should she do it?

"And I don't understand why people aren't getting arrested."

Police Service of Northern Ireland commanders have said that breaking the cordon that officers set up around rioters risked leaving police open to more serious attack from dissident republicans who were using the riot as a cover to target officers with bombs and guns.

There have been riots for three days at various locations across the North and latest police figures said that 83 officers were injured.

While police came under gun fire from gangs armed with a pistol in Derry and with a shotgun in the North Queen Street area of Belfast, the worst violence has been seen at Ardoyne where shots were also fired at officers last night.

The father of the policewoman injured by the cement block told BBC Radio Ulster's 'Nolan Show' that officers were being left too exposed by police tactics.

"She's not the only one, they're all getting [attacked], she just happened to be the unfortunate one that caught it," he said.

He recounted how he watched police footage of the riot on television and was stunned to see a rioter repeatedly smash a plank against police shields without getting arrested.

"This guy with this lump of wood that kept hitting them with, it's actually amazing that. I'm dumbfounded and I'm disgusted to tell you the truth.

"When you hear your daughter crying it's terrible, it's terrible," he said.

He said rioters had jeered and continued to attack his wounded daughter.

"That just finished me, with the laughing and the jeering of it all was just unbelievable," he said.

"I just can't believe people. The country's moving forward as everybody thinks, but it makes you think, you know, is it? Is it moving forward? Is there no end to this?

"Is this just going to go on and on and on and on? I don't know, I'm just totally baffled by it all, I just want to know why people don't get arrested?

"That could have been somebody else's daughter yesterday but she was pretty shocked about it all, and as I say I was grateful that she wasn't killed. If she hadn't been wearing a helmet maybe she would have been killed."

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