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Fire service ‘at the end of its rope’ over West Belfast attacks says Cllr Paul Doherty

Fire service ‘at the end of its rope’ over West Belfast attacks says Cllr Paul Doherty

The fire service is “at the end of its rope” with the increasing attacks in West Belfast, a local councillor says. Paul Doherty, SDLP, has pleaded for an end to attacks in the Colin area.

He says firefighters “risk their lives” to save people and their belongings and are “bombarded with debris” after responding to fires that have been set.

It comes after six attacks on firefighters responding to calls in the area recently, with 14 attacks in West Belfast in the past six months, with problems in the Stewartstown area, near Páirc Nua Chollann, Bell Steele and Colin Connect.

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Cllr Doherty added: “The fire service is at the end of its tether after being repeatedly attacked in the Stewartstown area over the last few weeks. Fires are being started around Páirc Nua Chollann and when the fire service responds they are being attacked and bombarded with debris, this is completely unacceptable and an undeserved attack on people carrying out a vital public service. I have spoken to them directly and they cannot understand why this is happening.

“Firefighters risk their lives every day to save people and their belongings in our community. They also perform a number of other important tasks that keep people out of harm’s way and we would be lost without them. Firefighters should be treated with respect and I am deeply disappointed that a small number within our community are behaving in this way.

“I am making a plea today for these attacks to stop. While the fire service is responding to incidents like this, its attention is being diverted from more deserving issues. I would also urge local parents to talk to their young people and ensure they are not engaging in this type of activity. No one wants to see a young person get into trouble or end up with a criminal record, but these attacks need to stop immediately and the fire service needs to be allowed to carry out its important work without fear of being subjected to this.”

NIFRS has been contacted for comment.

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