COUNCILLORS have said there could not be more difference between the riotous mob that gathered at the gates of Mossley Mill and the community workers and inspirational individuals who were being celebrated for their work across Newtownabbey inside the building.
Around 600 people were trapped when rioters blocked the gates of Mossley Mill, hijacked and burnt out vehicles and broke car windows during Friday night’s trouble.
At Monday night’s Policy and Governance committee meeting, Chairman Billy Ball deviated from the agenda to allow councillors to speak on the recent ugly scenes.
Chief Executive Jacqui Dixon began by thanking council officers, staff, security firm Sword and catering firm Mount Charles for their help and support.
She also thanked the PSNI and the Fire Service for their support as well as Peter Corry who entertained the audience, which contained many young children, in the theatre while they waited patiently to be allowed home.
She added: “I would like to thank everyone for their cooperation and support and was pleased that our security arrangements worked well.”
Mayor Victor Robinson also passed his thanks to council workers, visitors and outside contractors for “going above and beyond” during the disruption.
He said: “We had a great deal of people in attendance at the dinner who had overcome incredible adversity and been an inspiration to people. But everyone remained calm and supportive and the operation ran very smoothly.
“I do not know why anyone would want to attack the Mill, but this could have tuned out very different,” said the DUP representative.
UUP Councillor Mark Cosgrove continued: “The only way politics can be delivered is through the ballot box.
“We had 40 years of doing it other ways in terms of terrorism and that proved to only bring ruined lives and destruction.
“I think the contrast could hardly be more evident between those people inside the Mill who had worked hard and shown great leadership in their communities which they clearly love and those outside who were only intent on destruction.
“We have to be clear, violence can play no part in our society.”
Alliance councillor Tom Campbell went on: “The council is democratically elected by the people to serve the people.
“Those outside the building were clearly not there to persuade, but to intimidate. We have been around too long and we will not be bent or coerced by violence.”
He added: “We have done a lot to promote the Mill and the actions of Friday night will have deterred people from coming to the building and that damage will serve to harm the Newtowabbey ratepayer.”
Read the full story in this week’s Times...