Arson attack linked to loyalist feud: MLA

A spate of attacks in Carrickfergus over recent days is linked to an ongoing loyalist feud in the town, a DUP MLA has said.

Police are investigating an arson attack at a premises on the Woodburn Road on Wednesday night, in which a five cars were set alight.

Firefighters were called to the scene around 11.55am and the blaze was extinguished within half an hour.

The incident followed a series of attacks on houses in the town, amid what East Antrim MLA David Hilditch has described as an “escalation in tensions” in the area.

The PSNI said they are working to establish a motive for the arson attack, adding that a possible link between these incidents is one line of enquiry.

There has an ongoing feud in the Co Antrim town between rival factions of the South East Antrim UDA, which has claimed two lives.

Mr Hilditch told the News Letter: “The feud has been ongoing and while it has settled a bit, it has never really gone away. Things have been very tense since Saturday and people are concerned there will be a further escalation.

“I would ask police to use as much direct action as possible to bring this to a conclusion. I would also ask those involved to desist from their activities as they are only hurting Carrickfergus.”

Appealing for information, PSNI Chief Inspector Stephen Humphries said: “This was a reckless and dangerous act; we are lucky we are not dealing with a more serious incident, as the vehicles were close to petrol vapours.

“This type of criminality affects the whole community. The perpetrators have in fact stopped other businesses in the area from being able to trade today - taking away their ability to earn money and bring trade and people into the town.

“Everyone has a right to live and work in a safe and stable community. No one has the right to take this away from anyone.

“Those who carried out this attack do not represent the people of Carrickfergus.”