'Some young people had a great time'

19th July 1996 at 01:00
Young people in Ulster may want to work for peace but their words reveal only the divisions that haunt their lives. Paul McGill on the aftermath of the July 12 marches.

Young people from the age of 13 upwards took part in the rioting that devastated more than a dozen towns in Northern Ireland last week, but they were not the driving force behind the mayhem, according to the police.

"There are clear signs on both the loyalist and nationalist sides that events were orchestrated," said a police spokesman.

"At Drumcree there weresinister people in the background and they were not young. Among the residents in Garvaghy there was orchestration as well, because you don't produce petrol bombs out of thin air.

"It was the same in the Bogside and Strabane, where about 2,000 people were on the streets. There were certainly young people who came in on the back of previously orchestrated riots and then people tried to calm them down.

"Some of them had a great time, but it was always thus. There was nothing that showswe need to be worried about young people - they were involved but they were not the driving force."

The Royal Hospital in Belfast was unable to give figures on injuries to young people as a result of the disturbances. Altnagelvin Hospital in Derry treated 77 people injured in riots, most between 17 and 25.

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