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Northern Ireland riots: Gangs condemned after fourth night of violence in Carrickfergus

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Police deal with disorder in the North Road area of Carrickfergus on April 5, 2021 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Police deal with disorder in the North Road area of Carrickfergus on April 5, 2021 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

Police deal with disorder in the North Road area of Carrickfergus on April 5, 2021 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Police deal with disorder in the North Road area of Carrickfergus on April 5, 2021 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

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Police deal with disorder in the North Road area of Carrickfergus on April 5, 2021 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

A fourth consecutive night of violence in Carrickfergus and Londonderry has been condemned as "disgraceful" by Doug Beattie from the Ulster Unionist Party.

Monday night saw a crowd of around 30 youths clash with police officers, throwing petrol bombs and masonry. The violence in the area once again centred around the North Road, with crowds forming barricades.

There were also separate violent scenes in Derry, where a car was set alight in Sperrin Park in the Waterside area.

The PSNI have also confirmed they are investigating following loyalist protests throughout Monday afternoon - as masked loyalist bands marched through the streets in towns across the region, including Portadown, Ballymena and Markethill.

It comes amid reports that the Alliance Party are to put forward a motion recalling the Assembly to condemn the violence over the last week. Such a motion would require 30 signatures for the Assembly to be recalled.

In a statement on Tuesday, the Alliance party leader Naomi Long said submitting the recall petition was "needed after weeks of growing tensions around a number of issues" and added that she hoped it would representatives to show support for "the PSNI and rule of law".

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“We are facing an extremely serious situation. Weeks of tensions from a number of issues, incited and encouraged by a number of people who really should know better, has brought us to this point," the Justice Minister said.

“To the PSNI officers injured in the line of duty, to anyone who has suffered distress, loss and damage as a result of these incidents, I’m sorry the system has failed you.

“The violence has to stop, but so does the political cover given through vague comments and empty threats. There is no room for ambiguity – this violence must be condemned by a united Assembly, which fully supports the rule of law in Northern Ireland. Anything less is just allowing a culture of lawlessness to grow and further poison our community.”

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Police deal with disorder in the North Road area of Carrickfergus on April 5, 2021 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Police deal with disorder in the North Road area of Carrickfergus on April 5, 2021 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

Police deal with disorder in the North Road area of Carrickfergus on April 5, 2021 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

The continued scenes of violence have been condemned by the UUP's Doug Beattie, who also remarked upon reports that the paramilitary South East Antrim UDA group were behind the planning of violence in Carrickfergus.

Speaking to BBC Radio Ulster's Good Morning Ulster, Mr Beattie called the scenes "disgraceful" and said the violence was criminalising many young people in the area. He also said the violence was being orchestrated by criminal gangs.

"I mean it is utterly pointless and it is futile and destroying their own community. Right minded people must condemn where we see kids being goaded onto the streets by adults," he said.

"Where we have criminal drug gangs organising rioting in other parts of the country - it is utterly disgraceful.

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UUP MLA Doug Beattie (Brian Lawless/PA)

UUP MLA Doug Beattie (Brian Lawless/PA)

PA

UUP MLA Doug Beattie (Brian Lawless/PA)

"Let's not tar everybody here with a very small minority but that small minority is certainly capturing the headlines and all for the wrong reasons."

"I have long had an issue with these people [South East Antrim UDA] and they have to be called out time and time again.

"People have accused me for not being a unionist because I don’t support criminal gangs like the South East Antrim UDA. What they do is detract from genuine concerns from a community who feel like they are not being listened to. These people have no place bringing kids onto the streets to get them a criminal record."

When challenged on whether tensions have been increased as a result of unionist concerns over the PSNI chief constable, Mr Beattie said unionists were raising "genuine concerns" and said all politicians had a responsibility to engage with each other.

“All politicians are at fault when our discourse is not the way it should be. We all need to put our hands up... that we have not covered ourselves in glory with the way that we have engaged with each other. No matter what concerns we (unionists) raise, we are always accused of stoking the rhetoric," he added.

The SDLP MLA Delores Kelly said that unionism in Northern Ireland needed "a strategy" and to "take the blame" for the violent scenes. She also said in her view that paramilitary gangs were the "one of the factors" of the disorder in the Newtownabbey area.

"We have continued to pander to some within the paramilitary communities, including people having access to political leaders," she said on BBC's Nolan Show.

"I understand there was a time and place for that, but surely that time has now ended and it is now time for enforcement?

"I have spoken to people who live in loyalist communities and they are frightened, they are afraid to raise their voices.

"One of the factors, particularly in the Newtownabbey area, is of course the police action against the South East Antrim UDA. There needs to be people of influence within the communities calling for it [the violence] to stop."


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