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Newtownabbey: Petrol bombs thrown at police in second night of disorder

Petrol bombs have been thrown at police amid further disorder in Newtownabbey on Sunday.

Police have urged motorists to avoid the area.

A spokesperson said on Sunday night: "Motorists are advised to avoid the Cloughfern Roundabout of Newtownabbey, as a number of youths have gathered in the area. Motorists should seek alternative main routes for their journey."

Earlier, police confirmed a 47-year-old man has been charged following rioting in Newtownabbey on Saturday night in which thirty petrol bombs were thrown at police.

Three vehicles were hijacked and set alight during the rioting and petrol bombs and other missiles were thrown at PSNI Land Rovers at the Cloughfern roundabout in the O'Neill Road area.

Police said a crowd of 20 to 30 people consisting of young people and older men, some of whom were wearing masks, gathered from shortly after 7pm on Saturday.

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The man remains in police custody after being charged with rioting and throwing a petrol bomb and is expected to appear at Belfast's Magistrates Court later in April.

DUP MP Gregory Campbell called for an end to attacks on the police and said Sinn Fein must apologise for "arrogant and condescending" comments about young loyalists after scenes of disorder.

"Rioting and injuring rank and file officers will only result in young people being criminalised," he said.

It's after Sinn Fein's Gerry Kelly claimed the disturbances were "a direct consequence of the actions of political unionism" and accused "DUP rhetoric" of sending a "very dangerous message to young people in loyalist areas".

Tensions have soared within the loyalist community in recent months over post-Brexit trading arrangements and after last week a decision was taken not to prosecute 24 Sinn Fein politicians for attending the funeral of republican Bobby Storey during Covid-19 restrictions.

Mr Campbell said: "For Gerry Kelly and Sinn Fein to comment on the frustrations on our streets without recognising the major part they played in creating that anger is arrogance personified.

"People aren’t taps that some politician can turn on or off. Riots on the streets, just as they must be condemned, it also has to be realised that they are a symptom of the manner in which Sinn Fein has played fast and loose with the Covid rules whilst zealously demanding everyone else obey them."

Earlier on Sunday, First Minister Arlene Foster told young people that causing injury to police officers “will not make things better” following the violence that descended on parts of Northern Ireland over the weekend.

Twenty-seven police officers were injured during Friday’s riots in Belfast and Londonderry.

Meanwhile, seven people were charged with riot after the violence in the Sandy Row area of south Belfast on Friday.

Three men aged 25, 21 and 18, a 19-year-old woman and three youths aged 17, 14 and 13 are also expected to appear at Belfast Magistrates Court and Belfast Youth Court towards the end of April.

As is normal procedure all charges will be reviewed by the Public Prosecution Service.

A 19-year-old man, also arrested following the disorder on Friday night, was released on police bail pending further enquiries.

The Police Federation for Northern Ireland, which represents rank and file PSNI officers, called for an end to the disturbances.

The violence came as loyalists and unionists are still angry about post-Brexit trading arrangements which they claim have created barriers between Northern Ireland the rest of the UK.

Tensions were ramped up further earlier this week following a controversial decision not to prosecute 24 Sinn Fein politicians for attending the large scale funeral of former IRA man Bobby Storey in June when Covid-19 restrictions limited crowd numbers.

In her Easter message, DUP leader Mrs Foster said she was aware that many young people were “hugely frustrated” and sent her support to officers who are on duty this weekend.


Northern Ireland First Minister Arlene Foster calls for calm following rioting in Belfast (Liam McBurney/PA Wire)

Northern Ireland First Minister Arlene Foster calls for calm following rioting in Belfast (Liam McBurney/PA Wire)

Northern Ireland First Minister Arlene Foster calls for calm following rioting in Belfast (Liam McBurney/PA Wire)

“I appeal to our young people not to get drawn into disorder, which will lead to them having criminal convictions and blighting their own lives,” she stated.

“I also ask parents to play their part and be proactive in protecting their young adults.

“I also ask people to remember that not all messages on social media are genuine and they may come from sources which are deliberately trying to cause harm to your community.

“So on this Easter weekend, please stay safe with your families. Don't get pulled into something which will ruin your life.”

Belfast Telegraph

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