Belfast Telegraph

Alarm north Belfast sectarian gang fights set up online - youths storm estate

By Cate McCurry

Police are investigating reports that around 40 youths armed with improvised weapons stormed a north Belfast estate.

DUP MLA William Humphrey has called for an end to sectarian attacks and intimidation in the Waterworks area following incidents on Tuesday and Wednesday. The teenagers, some as young as 13, were reportedly armed with a broken snooker cue, a crowbar, a piece of copper piping and a door saddle, according to Mr Humphrey.

A DUP delegation is meeting with senior PSNI officers today regarding the incidents.

He said: "Residents in the unionist Westland estate were alarmed to find that around 40 nationalist youths had entered their estate carrying various improvised weapons. One female resident has described persuading youths aged around 13 to 14-years-old, both boys and girls, to give up weapons.

"Eventually, as the police arrived, the nationalist youths took off down the Westland Road.

"While we have received no reports of damage being caused, this was very unsettling for residents at the Westland interface, which has been quiet for the past year and more.

"It has been suggested that this incursion resulted from a fight arranged on social media.

"On Wednesday there was a further incident with around 40 nationalist youths gathering in the Waterworks, close to the Westland estate. It is disgraceful that residents should have to face such intimidation."

PSNI Inspector Paul Noble said: "There were no reports of any injuries on either Tuesday or Wednesday. We're aware these confrontations were arranged via social media. I appeal to parents to know where their children are and play a role in preventing them from becoming involved in this behaviour."

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