Police attacked as violence flares in night of further loyalist disturbances

Police have come under attack as violence flared during another night of sporadic disorder in parts of Northern Ireland.

Monday, 5th April 2021, 8:28 am
Cars burning at the Doagh Road roundabout of Newtownabbey in County Antrim on Saturday night. There was further trouble in Newtownabbey and Carrickferugs on Sunday night. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

Petrol bombs and bricks were thrown at officers in loyalist areas in Newtownabbey and Carrickfergus on Sunday night.

It was the second night in a row that trouble broke out at the Cloughfern roundabout in Newtownabbey on the outskirts of Belfast, although the violence was not as prolonged as on Saturday night.

There was also disorder in the North Road area of nearby Carrickfergus on Sunday night.

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On Saturday, 30 petrol bombs were thrown at officers in Newtownabbey in what police described as an “orchestrated attack”.

On Friday, there were violent scenes in the Sandy Row area of Belfast as well.

While in Londonderry, police have been subjected to sustained attacks across several nights in the last week in loyalist areas of the Waterside part of the city.

Some 27 police officers were injured on Friday night across Belfast and Derry.

Tensions have soared within the loyalist community in recent months over post-Brexit trading arrangements which have been claimed to have created barriers between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

Anger ramped up further last week following a controversial decision not to prosecute 24 Sinn Fein politicians for attending a large-scale republican funeral during Covid-19 restrictions.

All the main unionist parties have demanded the resignation of PSNI Chief Constable Simon Byrne, claiming he has lost the confidence of their community.

Meanwhile in Co Antrim, a recent series of drug seizures against the South East Antrim UDA – a renegade faction of the main grouping – have caused particular ill-feeling towards police.

The faction is believed to have been behind some of the weekend disturbances.

Earlier on Sunday, the PSNI’s North Area Commander Chief Superintendent Davy Beck said 30 petrol bombs were thrown at officers and three cars set alight in Newtownabbey on Saturday.

Mr Beck said it was an “orchestrated attack on police”.

“We are living in unprecedented times, dealing with a global pandemic, no-one needs the added pressure of disorder in their community,” he said.

“I would appeal to those who are taking to the streets to stop immediately, their actions are causing nothing but harm and distress to the very communities they claim they are representing.”

On Sunday evening the PSNI announced that a 47-year-old man has been charged in connection with rioting, and throwing a petrol bomb in Newtownabbey on Saturday.

He is due to appear at Belfast Magistrates’ Court on Monday April 26.

Seven people had already been charged after the disturbances in the Sandy Row area, with four adults – three men aged 25, 21 and 18 years old, and a woman aged 19 – have been charged with riot.

All four are due to appear at Belfast Magistrates’ Court on April 30.

Three teenagers, aged 17, 14 and 13, have also been charged with riot and are due to appear at Belfast Youth Court on April 30.