PSNI slams UDA 'power trip' in Larne

Published Monday, 31 March 2014
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PSNI Assistant Chief Constable George Hamilton has said that loyalist paramilitaries involved in disorder in Larne on Sunday night were "on a power trip".

PSNI slams UDA 'power trip' in Larne
Ferris Avenue in Larne where up to around masked men went on the rampage (© Presseye)

Crowds of up to 100 people were involved in disorder that started at around 8.40pm in the Knockdhu Park and Ferris Avenue areas of the Co Antrim town.

Police who arrived at the scene were attacked and one officer required hospital treatment to a head injury.

A family of five were inside one of the homes on Ferris Avenue when it was targeted. Its windows were smashed and damage was caused to the interior.

A mother and her two sons living nearby also had their home and car both badly damaged.

Police had made two arrests in the area on the previous afternoon following a fight involving five men.

On Sunday several people were also assaulted at the scene- a man living at a property on Knockdhu Park was left seriously injured and was taken to hospital - where he remains in a stable condition.

The police have confirmed his house was damaged a fortnight ago on 18 March.

ACC Hamilton said that members of the public alerted police at around 7.40pm to "a large number of paramilitary types" in Carrickfergus - some of whom were masked.

"The assessment was they were probably meeting in Carrickfergus to go on somewhere else. Police identified a number of possibilities, based on recent rises in tension across east Antrim. About an hour later, we had the first attack on a house in Larne and police responded to that within three minutes."

It is significant, this isn't an isolated incident. Tension has been mounting within the Larne area over the last number of weeks and months.

ACC George Hamilton

ACC Hamilton attributed the attack to the south east Antrim UDA, whose members "seemed to be on a power trip", adding the grouping was "disparate" from other elements within the UDA.

"Within the last week we actually arrested six people who would be connected to this grouping, they have been charged with things such as threats to kill and intimidation, criminal damage and so on," he said.

"These groups seem to want to have some power or legitimacy within communities and it's very important that the community themselves don't do anything to give legitimacy to these groups. There are ways of dealing with tensions and with difficulties within communities."

ACC Hamilton explained that two patrol cars responded to the first instance of disorder, followed by around 25 riot officers 15 minutes later and another public order unit soon after.

"In a town the size of Larne, I think the number of police officers that we had available to deploy very quickly to that scenario last night was proportionate. If you were the victim of that last night, you probably wouldn't see it that way, but of course resources are not endless."

He said extra resources have been put in place in the area following the outbreak of trouble.

The south east Antrim UDA should get off the backs of the people of Larne and disband immediately.

Oliver McMullan, Sinn Féin

Local Church of Ireland Minister, Rev Harold Sharp, visited the area to console those left traumatised by the events.

"They are still in a state of shock and disbelief that people could come into the Larne area and cause such devastation," he told UTV.

"They just couldn't believe that it was happening and that it was happening so blatantly, that it should be possible for people to come armed with the intent of violence, for violence has achieved nothing in the past. I'm just appalled, what's the benefit of it all, what has been achieved except to generate fear."

Sinn Féin East Antrim MLA Oliver McMullan said that he would be asking for a report on the police response to the incident as he claims he had warned them such an attack was "imminent".

"Some of the victims of last night's attacks have already been attacked on more than one occasion," he said.

"I acknowledge the courage and the efforts of the police officers injured in an effort to prevent an attack on one of the homes.

"However, it's worrying that police were unable to apprehend any of the 70 to 100 strong mob involved in the attacks."

DUP Deputy Mayor of Larne Drew Niblock appealed for calm in the town and no retaliation.

"Whilst these two homes have been subject to attacks in the past few weeks, this is not indicative of what goes on in Larne, Larne has just completed a very successful half-marathon on Saturday, the Giro d 'Italia will be coming through the town in May, it is a thriving port and there has been relative peace in Larne over the past years," he commented.

UUP MLA for the area, Roy Beggs condemned those behind the attacks and appealed for anyone with information to contact police.

He said: "This is serious, organised crime endangering life. I would call for significant additional police resources to be dedicated to address those who are challenging British law and the justice system."

Alliance East Antrim MLA Stewart Dickson also condemned those responsible for the violence, stating that "there is no place for this type of public disorder on our streets".

© UTV News
Comments Comments
PG in Detroit Michigan in Michigan USA wrote (301 days ago):
What kind of law and order do you have in Northern Ireland? Mobs can go on a rampage under the name of a group called the UDA and the local police cannot arrest their leaders or the participants? You people need to wise up and start living like sensible people. Who would want to do business with a country where known lawless mobs can behave like this? The law in Northern has always been suspect thus the disbandment of the 'B' specials and the bigoted RUC. The reasonable countries of the world laugh at your outdated celebrations and behavior. Grow up and join the modern world.
onlooker in co antrim wrote (304 days ago):
These guys terrorise this area, not for money or drugs, its all down to the fact that they are a bunch of wee boys trying to act big and wanting to be the biggest and bravest in matters that don't even concern them. There will always be someone 'bigger and braver' and each and every one of them will get the comeback they deserve. If people worried about their own lives instead of everyone elses, and moved on from the petty nonsense that this country deals with daily, the world would be a better place. I am yet to see any member of this organisation do anything for their 'cause', they spend all their time terrorising others for fun. They make a complete joke of loyalism and I imagine, a complete joke of their own organisation. Absolute scum.
Fred in Belfast wrote (304 days ago):
UDA my backside - these are just terrorist thugs posing as loyalists. Just like so called dissidents, posing as republicans. They are all just terrorist thugs. If you support the union, do it politically, if you support a united Ireland, do it politically. If you resort to violence of any sort, you should expect to be treated as criminals and thugs and bunged into prison.
rob in belfast wrote (305 days ago):
gw in County Antrim... Unfortunately due to the world wide civil rights movements of the 60s and 70s the UK govenment was forces to be light handed with Republicans and Loyalists. There was also the cold war and all the pressures involved, N Ireland could have become a proxy war or the ROI could have permitted a Soviet naval/air base. Becoming the UK's Cuba, then there was the pressure from Irish America. N Ireland is very much the victim of international politics as much as it is of internal. Our police service is what it is as a result of the Belfast agreement, it and the legal system are totally ineffective. Work class comunities were handed on a plate to the terrorist factions who have racked in not only the drug profits but also government funding.
David in larne wrote (305 days ago):
I am a larne man In my 40s and to be honest this show of stregth among drug dealers, extortionists and general rubbish is not new. The sea uda in larne r well known amongst the local community both Catholic and protestant!, surly our police intelligence units must know who is involved since every dog on the street does!...
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