A young boy (15) who was attacked in October, after he came to visit his grandmother in hospital who is terminally ill, suffered two fractures to his skull and cuts and bruises to his face after he was assaulted along the Albertbridge Road in East Belfast. The attack took place at around 6pm and was allegedly carried out by a group of young people from the Short Strand area. Another sectarian attack took place later that night after an elderly woman living in the Short Strand was injured in her home when a group of young people threw a brick through her window.
Naomi Long’s Alliance Party office was also targeted in a hoax bomb attack that according to Sinn Féins Niall O Donnghaile was “intended to redirect officers from the interface”. After four nights of violence on the streets residents from both sides of the community have made pleas for the attacks to stop. Sinn Fein councillor Niall O Donnghaile accused police of “losing control of the situation” while Ulster Unionist MLA Michael Copeland said: “The main issue being raised with me by constituents is the lack of information coming from the police”. The reality is the PSNI are incapable of stopping sectarian attacks and in fact tend to raise tensions at flashpoints. Only local cross-community action by ordinary residents working together can stop sectarian attacks at interfaces.
Sixteen years after the Good Friday Agreement recent statistics reveal that 65% of young people do not believe that peace has been achieved and a further 40% believe that we will see a return to all out violence in our lifetime. Quite frankly these statistics are shocking and really illustrate the disillusionment young people have with the main parties and why it is necessary to build an alternative party to those that offer nothing but austerity and sectarian division.
The recent round of industrial action taken in the health service was an example of the power that workers have through collective struggle. The campaign of escalating industrial action, involving multiple unions and including coordinated strikes, brought the issues of pay inequality and under-staffing to the fore.