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Leadership about action, not merely words, says Long

Leadership is about action, not merely words, Alliance Leader Naomi Long MLA has said.

Mrs Long was speaking during an Alliance Assembly motion in the wake of several nights of violence across Northern Ireland. The latest saw petrol bombs thrown in Lanark Way, police officers attacked and a bus burnt out.

“The images we have witnessed over the past few nights are nothing short of disgraceful and anyone who in any way tries to justify, excuse or deflect from those abhorrent scenes should also be thoroughly ashamed,” said Mrs Long.

“My support is with the police officers on the front line, and I wish those injured a swift and complete recovery. My thoughts are also with members of the public, merely going about their day, only to have their lives disrupted and property destroyed by these mindless thugs. It is a mercy nobody has lost their lives as a result of this violence.

“While not all those involved are young, it has been particularly disturbing to see another young generation of young people in violent confrontation with the police. My horror at that has been intensified as I watched adults cheering, goading and encouraging those young people. That is nothing short of child abuse.

“There are many theories as to why this violence has erupted and, whilst there may be an element of truth in each of them, there is and can be no excuse or justification for what has taken place. The condemnation from the Assembly today and going forward must be unequivocal. 

"However, leadership is about action, not merely words. Upholding a culture of lawfulness is not only about what we say, it is also about what we do. We need to commit to tackling the underlying tensions, frustrations, deprivation and deep-rooted sectarianism with practical, political solutions and show the leadership which our community desperately needs.

“I hope, despite the different perspectives in the Assembly, today’s motion will unite us in support of policing, for the rule of law, for delivering political solutions to our challenges we face and above all in our desire to seek an immediate end to this violence before the damage is done is irreparable.”