Ahern worried by situation

A NEW generation in Northern Ireland is being blooded in sectarian hatred, Foreign Affairs Minister Dermot Ahern said yesterday.

In the aftermath of the worst loyalist rioting for years, Mr Ahern claimed it was deliberately orchestrated to intimidate nationalists who now feared for the future.

He urged people with influence to condemn the violence and work towards building bridges between communities.

Mr Ahern, who visited Belfast last week, said the SDLP and Sinn Féin had been concerned about potential violence after the Orange Order’s Whiterock March was re-routed away from a nationalist area by the Parades Commission.

“It’s an extremely worrying turn of events.

“What happened was a huge effort to intimidate nationalist communities, who fear very much for the future.

“What we really don’t need at this moment in time is more incitement.”

Tensions remained high after the violence, which erupted in west Belfast and then spread to the north and east of the city, then Ballymena, Antrim, Carrickfergus, Larne, Ballyclare, Glengormley and Ahoghill.

Mr Ahern, who will be fully briefed on the rioting by officials tomorrow, said evidence children as young as five were getting involved in violence did not augur well for the future.

“Children and teenagers are becoming brutalised by involving themselves in these riots. A new generation is being blooded in sectarian hatred. A new generation is being spawned by this type of incitement,” he told RTÉ Radio.

He said it was a positive development some parents of children involved in violence were bringing them to be spoken to by the PSNI.

Mr Ahern had no doubt the riots were an orchestrated event.

He said PSNI Chief Constable Hugh Orde’s comments that the Orange Order must shoulder substantial blame for the violence should be heeded.

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