27 July 2000 Edition

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Death riding initiative launched

Belfast Sinn Féin has launched a major new `anti joyriding' initiative. Launching the initiative at the party's Falls Road offices on Monday 24 July Councillor Michael Ferguson called for ``all relevant bodies including political parties and community groups, statutory agencies and concerned residents to play their part in finding a solution'', to the problem of reckless driving of stolen cars.

``The campaign will involve a range of initiatives including public and private meetings and protests aimed at putting in place real mechanisms for tackling the problems surrounding car theft''.

The Sinn Féin initiative comes at a time of increased car theft and `death riding' as many people now dub the activity. In the last 18 months eight people have died as a result of `joy riding', and many more have been seriously injured. Most of these deaths have occurred in and around West Belfast or have been caused by thieves originating from the area.

``Sinn Féin regards so-called `joyriding as a social problem, the result of problems which our community currently faces'', said Ferguson.

The Sinn Féin Councillor, whose constituency is plagued with the problem, however warned that any solution, ``which focuses solely on punishment'', won't solve the problem.

Going on to outline a number of options for dealing with the problem Ferguson called for the promotion and support of Community Restorative Justice initiatives, youth provision, tackling substance abuse and the availability of alcohol to minors.

In the long term Ferguson called for, ``the real social and economic regeneration of Belfast''.

Before concluding Ferguson dealt with the role of the RUC saying that, ``it didn't have the ability or the interest in dealing with the issue or any other matter affecting nationalism''.

Photo Caption: Jacqueline Coogan whose pregnant aunt Maureen Bramble was killed by car thieves ten years ago is supporting the Sinn Féin initiative.

An Phoblacht
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Dublin 1
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