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Three arrested in Lurgan as rival football fans clash ahead of Glenavon and Cliftonville game

By Staff Reporter

Three people were arrested after violence flared on the streets of Lurgan town centre ahead of a top-of-the-table Irish League match between Glenavon and Cliftonville.

Police said the arrests were made following trouble in the Union Street area, which links the town centre to Glenavon's Mourneview Park stadium in the Tandragree Road area.

There was confusion surrounding the extent of the trouble but pictures on social media show PSNI Tactical Support Group officers and Land Rovers beside a 30-strong group of young people.

Local people said some Cliftonville fans often walk through Lurgan for the fixture, which takes them through mainly unionist parts of the town, and there is always tension around the fixture.

Other fans at the match said the trouble was low-key and only involved a small number of people with the vast majority of supporters enjoying one of the best matches of the year in the league - which ended with a 3-3 draw.

A police spokesman confirmed there had been disturbances in the area and there had been three arrests.

Two people were later released and one remained into custody.

DUP councillor Carla Lockhart described the disturbances as "riots" and questioned police logic in allowing the fans along Union Street, saying Sloan Street would have been a better choice.

Ms Lockhart said: "I have been out on the ground with the PSNI during the disturbances while people were travelling to the Glenavon versus Cliftonville match at Mourneview Park.

"Innocent people were caught up in these riots and we are very fortunate there was no one seriously injured."

Ms Lockhart said she contacted the PSNI on Saturday morning to ensure that there were adequate resources to deal with potential problems, and that the planned route for supporters walking from trains to the match was not the same as last year, via Union Street.

"Well lo and behold Union Street ended up the route and that's where the fight broke out.

"The PSNI definitely had enough resources but I would question their logic in the Union Street usage as opposed to Shankill and Sloan Street."

She said the average age of those involved looked to be about 14.

There were comments on social media claiming some Cliftonville fans were chanting 'IRA' as they walked through the town.

One Cliftonville fan claimed on Facebook that men ran out of licensed premises and chased some of their supporters.

A local woman wrote on Facebook that the incidents were "horrible" and said she was nearly struck by a bottle.

One supporter told the Belfast Telegraph: "After the match I also saw police jeeps speeding off from the ground with their lights flashing towards the Sloan Street area."

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