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Call for Belfast City Hall security to be increased after heroin addict is seen ‘shooting up’ in iconic building

  • Call for Belfast City Hall security to be increased after heroin addict is seen ‘shooting up’ in iconic building

    BelfastTelegraph.co.uk

    Fears are growing that Belfast City Hall is becoming a hub for illicit drugs activity after it was claimed a heroin addict was seen shooting up in a toilet. http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/northern-ireland/call-for-belfast-city-hall-security-to-be-increased-after-heroin-addict-is-seen-shooting-up-in-iconic-building-35835915.html

    http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/incoming/article35835913.ece/911c0/AUTOCROP/h342/heroi.jpg

  • Email1

Fears are growing that Belfast City Hall is becoming a hub for illicit drugs activity after it was claimed a heroin addict was seen shooting up in a toilet. A council employee said they then saw the man fleeing half-naked in full view of tourists and visitors shortly before lunchtime on Tuesday.

Belfast City Council admitted that drug-taking paraphernalia was found in the City Hall toilets, while sources have told the Belfast Telegraph that drugs are a huge problem in the landmark building. The upsurge in illegal activity has coincided with a hike in visitor numbers, particularly with the exhibition centre in the west wing attracting more people through its doors.

There are plenty of hidey-holes for drug addicts to make use of, a City Hall insider told this newspaper.

There s also a daily and nightly gathering of drugs users at the Cenotaph. The eyewitness, who asked to remain anonymous, said they saw the man taking heroin before running out of the toilets on the ground floor of City Hall near the main entrance with his trousers hanging off him and no top on .

The shooting-up incident happened a day after a man in his 30s died from a suspected overdose in the toilets of a KFC restaurant in north Belfast. High Sheriff of Belfast Tom Haire revealed that he has had people removed from the Cenotaph for drinking alcohol, and called for increased security and more cameras at City Hall.

With increasing numbers of people around and in light of recent terror attacks in England, we need to bolster security both inside and outside the grounds, he said.

Our security staff do an excellent job, but we need more manpower, and although there already is CCTV in City Hall, we could do with bringing more cameras in. Mr Haire said he was familiar with problems of people gathering at the Cenotaph and said he was in favour of closing it off to the public.

My office overlooks the Cenotaph and I actually had to call security to ask them to remove half-a-dozen people drinking alcohol there, he said.

The DUP politician also said there should be a review of public toilet provision in the area because City Hall is often the first port of call for people who have no business being there . Councillor Jim Rodgers said he was becoming increasingly concerned about the city s drugs problem and he backed calls for security to be beefed up.

I ve had many complaints about people taking drugs not just within City Hall itself, but in the grounds as well and there has been a rise in the number of people using the loos to take drugs, said the Ulster Unionist.

Drugs is a major problem and we must do everything we can to address it.

I certainly don t want someone to be found dead from an overdose on council premises or anywhere else. UUP colleague Jeff Dudgeon said the incident was the downside of City Hall being widely open to the public.

There is a problem with heroin in the city and drugs misuse generally, he said.

We have significant security at City Hall, but you can t stand over everyone walking in and out.

Councillor Tommy Sandford said the unfortunate incident was something that every one of us should be worried about .

Hopefully it s a one-off . I m just sorry that it happened at all, he added. Belfast City Council said there was no attempt to pursue or apprehend anyone, and the identity of the person or persons involved is not known to us .

We can confirm that drug-taking paraphernalia recently was found in the City Hall toilets, it added.

However, it is inaccurate to say that a person was disturbed in the act of injecting drugs.

We are liaising closely with the PSNI and will continue to do so . There have been occasional discoveries of drugs paraphernalia in the grounds, including the Cenotaph area, but we would stress these finds are occasional.

In all such matters, we liaise closely with the PSNI . The grounds are monitored by CCTV and we also employ a contracted security company to patrol the grounds.

Belfast Telegraph

References

  1. ^ Email (www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk)

Tight security and tears as Manchester benefit concert kicks off

By Mark Hanrahan1 | MANCHESTER, England

MANCHESTER, England U.S . pop singer Ariana Grande headlined a star-studded benefit concert in Manchester on Sunday that was both joyful and mournful, in aid of victims of the bombing that rocked the city last month, as security fears ran high after attackers in London killed seven people.

Around 50,000 fans crammed into Old Trafford cricket ground under the watchful eye of hundreds of police, including a significant number of armed officers, a sight that would be unusual under normal circumstances.

The show saw performances from big pop acts from both sides of the Atlantic, including local heroes Take That and Liam Gallagher, along with Pharrell Williams, Katy Perry, Justin Bieber, Little Mix, Coldplay, the Black Eyed Peas, and Grande.

The show was a mix of gaiety and somber reflection – fans could at times be seen jumping for joy, while others, holding banners saying “for our angels”, could be seen wiping away tears . The event began with a moment of silence for the victims of the bombing less than two weeks ago.

“I don t want to feel or hear or see any fear in this building,” U.S . singer Pharrell Williams told the crowd as he led them in a rendition of his hit single “Happy”. “The only thing we ll feel here tonight is love, and positivity.”

Fellow singer Miley Cyrus joined the rendition and said: “I d like to wrap my arms around each and every one of you and thank you .. . The most important responsibility we have in this time is to take care of one another.”

During her set, “Part of Me”, singer Katy Perry told the crowd: “love conquers fear and love conquers hate, and this love you choose will give you strength and it s our greatest power,” before asking the crowd to turn and hug the person next to them.

The somber cause that the concert was being held to benefit was never far from the crowd’s mind . Grande told the audience that her song selection was influenced by the mother of 15-year-old Olivia Campbell, who died in last month’s bombing.

“Sorry” singer Justin Bieber also paid tribute, saying: “I just want to take this moment to honor the people that were lost . We love you so much .

To the families, we love you so much.”

Up to 14,000 of those who attended Grande’s May 22 concert, at which a suicide bomber killed 22 children and adults, were given free tickets to attend Sunday’s show, with some persuaded to attend by their affection for the pop star, and despite their very real concerns about security.

“I m real excited, but real scared,” Shannon Beetham, 14, who was injured in last month’s bombing, told Reuters. “We were there in Manchester (arena) as well, I was hit.”

There were also plenty of upbeat moments, such as when a uniformed police officer was seen holding hands and dancing hand-in-hand with young fans, or when former Oasis front man Liam Gallagher belted out a swaggering version of “Rock ‘n’ Roll Star”.

Grande closed the show by inviting all the other performers on stage to help her sing her 2014 hit “One Last Time”, before she closed with a moving solo version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”.

Fans seemed to have forgotten any lingering fears about security towards the end of the evening, with a lively crowd of middle-aged fans singing “Tonight, I’m a rock and roll star” as they made their way out of the stadium.

(Editing by Tom Heneghan and James Dalgleish)


References

  1. ^ Mark Hanrahan (uk.reuters.com)

Police think they know who suicide bomber is

Police and security services believe they know the identity of the man behind the Manchester suicide bombing. Speaking outside Downing Street after chairing a meeting of the Government’s emergency COBRA committee, the Prime Minister Theresa May said authorities are working to establish whether he was acting alone or as part of a group. She said the blast at Manchester Arena, which left 22 people dead1, was “among the worst terrorism we have experienced in the United Kingdom” and that the city had fallen victim to a “callous terrorist attack”. :: Live updates: 23-year-old man arrested after Manchester suicide bombing2

The target was a pop concert, the audience was a mixture of teenagers, many of them young girls, all out for a fun and innocent evening . Some were young enough to need chaperoning by parents or grandparents. If this does turn out to be an Islamist-inspired attack, the attacker has deliberately targeted everything his warped beliefs hate in a Western society. He has also demonstrated a deadly competence – he blew himself up as the high-spirited crowd streamed out of the arena after the concert .

The timing, and location of the explosion – just outside the main arena itself – suggests planning and shows he probably carried out a recce. The singer Ariana Grande is world-famous . She has more than 45 million followers on Twitter . Another basic but twisted way of guaranteeing this attack will resonate far. :: What we know so far3 The morning after the attack, a number of things will be happening simultaneously and with urgency. In Manchester, counterterrorism police from North West Command will be carrying out forensic work at the scene of the explosion.

They will try and find bomb-making signatures that might give a clue as to who was behind this attack. They will look for certain chemicals, such as triacetone triperoxide (TATP). :: Witness: ‘It was absolute carnage’4

TATP has been used by terrorists around the world, it is a favoured compound of Islamic State and it is relatively straightforward to make, but it is extremely unstable and lethal. It has been confirmed that the attacker died on the scene – this tells us that something is left of his body. That will be important in identifying him, either facially, through fingerprints, dental records or DNA. Once the security services are confident they have the right man, databases will be scoured . Was the attacker known to the security services ? Does he have known associates? His home will be searched .

So too the homes of any close relatives or friends. People might be detained, questioned and then released . Computers will be taken away and their contents and internet history studied. GCHQ will be looking for a digital trail and if necessary MI6 will speak to foreign partners to build a picture of who this man was and who he knew. Was he acting alone, a so-called lone-wolf (unlikely with this nature of attack), did he have supporters helping him in the UK, was he being remotely ‘directed’ by a centralised body (for example IS leadership in Raqqa)? These are all questions which will have been asked by the Prime Minister as she chaired the COBRA meeting. The most pressing questions of all though – was this part of a network and should the UK prepare for a secondary attack?

COBRA (the dramatic acronym for the mundane Cabinet Office Briefing Room) is attended by key members of Government, including the home and defence secretaries, the heads of the UK’s intelligence agencies and other relevant figures. The Foreign Secretary is in Brussels so wouldn’t have been there in person but could have dialled in, if necessary. The decision to raise the national threat level is one for JTAC – the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre. It sits inside MI5’s headquarters on the banks of the River Thames, and acts independent from government although with input from government officials. The threat level is currently set at “severe”, one from the top . It means an attack is highly likely. If JTAC assesses that another attack is under way or imminent, it will raise that level to the highest – “critical”.

The security services have been warning that London isn’t the only target of terrorists wishing to attack the UK. Many smaller cities might be less prepared for an incident like this, but not Manchester. MI5 has a regional base in Bury, just on the outer edges of the city.

The police armed response unit is highly trained and on the scene within minutes of the attack. Now and in the coming days, armed police will patrol Manchester city centre, partly for reassurance, partly for increased security. And then there are 22 families, the morning after, at home, mourning the death of loved ones.

“The death of these children will remain with us forever,” a member of the city council told Sky News.

References

  1. ^ which left 22 people dead (news.sky.com)
  2. ^ Live updates: 23-year-old man arrested after Manchester suicide bombing (news.sky.com)
  3. ^ What we know so far (news.sky.com)
  4. ^ Witness: ‘It was absolute carnage’ (news.sky.com)