violence in Belfast as the vote loomed – reaction

Protestors and police clash as Translink Metro is broad to standstill during Protest on Tuition Fees. Pic © 2010 Michael Carchrie Campbell
Protestors and police clash as Translink Metro is brought to standstill during the protest on Tuition Fees in Donegall Square, Belfast on December 9th, 2010. Pic: © 2010 Michael Carchrie Campbell

This afternoon, I happened to be in Belfast City Centre as the protest on tution fees was taking place at the gates of Belfast City Hall.

Earlier this evening as Northern Ireland Liberal Democrat Chair I issued a press release. I said:

Whilst I support the students’ right to have their point heard, and indeed agree with them that this tripling of tuition fees is neither fair nor progressive, I have concerns about the way I witnessed ‘protestors‘ going about it.

I saw missiles being thrown at PSNI officers as well as chants directed at them that are not acceptable as Northern Ireland seeks to create a truly shared future.

I thank the PSNI for their work in marshalling the protest while looking out for the wellbeing of shoppers and workers going about their business in the city centre.

The violent scenes from the ‘protestors’ at City Hall this afternoon are totally unacceptable and put members of the police and public at risk. I condemn those who have used this protest on student fees for violent ends: they are not helping the cause of those students who need their concerns to be taken into account at Westminster today, as our MPs gather to debate and vote on this important issue.

Shortly after issuing the statement, the vote was taken in the House of Commons. Having campaigned for many years as a loyal Liberal Democrat to

Scrap Tuition Fees

I am severely disappointed that the Rebellion in our Party has gone ahead. Tomorrow, on the publication of Hansard, we will truly find out which of our MPs stood up for the policy of the Federal Party of the Liberal Democrats, and which decided to forget their principles and vote for a policy that will see the trebling of tuition fees, which as I said earlier is neither progressive nor fair.

Not often I say thank you to the DUP, SDLP, Alliance and Lady Hermon

I am glad to say that we were told that the Northern Irish MPs that have taken the Oath of Allegiance (and therefore can vote, coming from the Democratic Unionist Party, the Social Democratic and Labour Party, the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland, and Lady Hermon, Independent from North Down) were going to vote against Her Majesty’s Government. I am glad to see that they are voting for Lib Dem policy.

Salvage starts tonight

Tonight is the start of repairing the major damage done to the credibility of the Liberal Democrats. The public and the members of the Party feel tremendously let down, and I don’t blame them. I feel let down by the actions of those relatively few members of the Party that sit in the House of Commons and voted with HM Government tonight. Hopefully, as a Party we will be able to salvage our relationship with the public at large. I feel sure that the next conference in Sheffield is going to be an interesting one.

One thought on “violence in Belfast as the vote loomed – reaction

  1. I heard one protester say ” these students are the future leaders of our country”, so standing outside City Hall throwing things at the police and disrupting Christmas shopping is our future, so what has changed?

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