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Police investigating ‘suspicious’ masked men patrolling East Belfast streets

Video footage circulated on social media on Tuesday showing a group of 40 men in the Pitt Park area off the Newtownards Road.

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(PA)

(PA)

(PA)

A police investigation is under way after a large group of “sinister” masked men were seen patrolling streets in East Belfast.

Video footage emerged on social media on Tuesday showing a group of more than 40 men wearing masks walking through the Pitt Park area, off the Newtownards Road.

The footage also shows police officers monitoring the scene and dispersing the crowd.

Police confirmed they responded to reports of “suspicious masked men” in the vicinity of the Newtownards Road on Tuesday afternoon.

A spokesman said officers attended the incident and inquiries are continuing.

The DUP’s Gavin Robinson said the incident in Pitt Park represented a “severe escalation” of tensions in East Belfast in recent weeks.

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He called on the PSNI to show that such action will not be tolerated.

Mr Robinson said: “Over the last couple of weeks, there has been a number of worrying incidents in East Belfast. Homes attacked, families intimidated and our community living in fear.

“Today we saw a severe escalation of that in Pitt Park. It has to stop. East Belfast deserves better.

“The PSNI need to get a grip and show such action will not be tolerated.”

Sinn Fein MP Paul Maskey said he was concerned by the footage.

The West Belfast MP said: “It is deeply concerning to see footage circulating this afternoon appearing to show a group of over 40 men patrolling the streets of East Belfast.

“This gathering is sinister and looks to be an attempt to exert control over the community of East Belfast.

“The PSNI, who attended the scene, must thoroughly investigate this afternoons incident and ensure that criminal gangs are held accountable for their actions.

“This also comes at a time when the emergency services are already under great strain because of the pandemic.

“We need to see calm heads and responsible leadership at this time and not attempts to raise tensions.”


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