MP accused of differing responses

Posted By: August 09, 2017

Brendan Hughes. Irish News. Belfast. Wednesday, August 9, 2017

SDLP South Belfast MLA Claire Hanna warned against a “selective attitude to condemning bad behavior”

THE DUP’s Emma Little-Pengelly was accused yesterday of differing responses to the disorder caused by bonfires in nationalist areas compared to loyalist communities.

On Monday night, Ms. Pengelly responded on Twitter after cars were destroyed by youths angry at the removal of bonfire materials in Belfast’s Markets area.

The South Belfast MP tweeted: “Distressing for residents and property owners. If you need help and support please contact me. I will be speaking with PSNI urgently.”

But some internet users were quick to pan her remarks, comparing them with her response to a loyalist bonfire that damaged an apartment block.

The DUP was urged to “stop hiding” last month after failing to attend meetings with residents of the Victoria Place flats near Sandy Row.

Ms. Pengelly also faced criticism for reacting to the damage by saying the building was “fully insured” – remarks branded “hopelessly inadequate” by Alliance MLA Paula Bradshaw.

But Ms. Pengelly insisted she had written to residents, spoken to some and offered to meet them, saying she wanted to “ensure this does not happen again”.

Claire Hanna, the SDLP’s South Belfast MLA, yesterday said the recent disorder was “unjustifiable” and warned against a “selective attitude to condemning bad behavior”.

“I’m glad that the DUP in south Belfast has come out of hiding on the issue of bonfires. Their silence following the mayhem caused by July bonfires contrasts with their willingness to comment today,” she said.

“Bonfire-related damage and crime require a community and a criminal justice and policing response, and leadership from all parties. We cannot have people held to ransom in their own homes like this.”