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In pictures: Aftermath of UDA violence in Larne

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A 15 year-old girl was chased upstairs by a grown man wielding a sledgehammer during violence in Larne on Sunday night, according to a Stormont Assembly member.

Politicians roundly condemned the disturbances which saw a mob of between 60 and 100 men, some of them masked, attack houses in the town.

Police said the south east Antrim brigade of the UDA was behind the violence, which saw a police officer taken to hospital.

The matter was raised in the Assembly on Monday, with politicians from all parties expressing their disgust at what had happened.

Sinn Fein’s Oliver McMullan claimed one of those caught up in the violence was a former soldier, while another man was beaten with a hammer while trying to shield his young daughter.

He said he felt the incident had arisen after an incident on Saturday where two men were arrested and three injured parties taken to hospital, and further claimed it is not a one-off.

Other politicians said the arrests of six people last week, which PSNI Assistant Chief Constable George Hamilton said were associated with threats to kill, criminal damage and intimidation, had sparked the violence.

East Antrim MP Sammy Wilson said it was ”not without significance” that the incident happened after the arrests last week.

He said the blame for what happened lay firmly at the door of the criminal elements, but added that the PSNI could perhaps have had a quicker reaction if there had been better intelligence gathering.

“If the rule of law is to work in Northern Ireland then it depends upon the cooperation of the public,” he told the Assembly.

SDLP leader Alasdair McDonnell said clear political leadership must be shown in the wake of such an incident.

“There is still some awful thuggery out there in our society, not just confined to east Antrim,” he said. “Paramilitaries must not be allowed any degree of primacy in any society. A clear message must be sent out by civic society that we will not tolerate this.”

UUP MLA Roy Beggs said there should perhaps be additional specialist resources allocated to deal with such behaviour.

In an earlier statement 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.”

TUV leader Jim Allister said he was “disappointed” at the police resources currently in place in Larne, which he understood was sometimes just one car on patrol.

Alliance MLA Stewart Dickson said the violence had raised questions around the UDA ceasefire.

NI21’s Basil McCrea said there must be an outright rejection of violence and violent organisations.

“The challenge for all of us here now is to turn our back on ambivalence,” he said. “The UDA is part of the past and we need a better future.”

 

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