31/03/2014

Police Officer Injured In Attacks

A police officer has been injured following serious disturbances in Larne, Co Antrim.

On Sunday night (30 March), police received a report of disturbances in the Sallagh Park South area at around 8.40pm.

Within minutes, officers arrived at the scene and were immediately attacked.

It is thought as many as 100 people were involved in the disturbances.

A number of homes and cars in the area were damaged, with a number of people assaulted in Ferris Avenue and Sallagh Park South. A police car was also damaged, the PSNI has said.

Assistant Chief Constable George Hamilton has said the South East Antrim UDA were behind the violence.

The incidents have been condemned by the police and Northern Ireland's politicians.

Alliance MLA Stewart Dickson said: "I am appalled at this violence this has taken place in Larne. There is no place for this type of public disorder on our streets.

"I am deeply concerned by the reports from the PSNI that the South East Antrim UDA were responsible for this trouble. If this is correct, it raises serious questions about the status of this paramilitary group. The Chief Constable must look into this matter.

"It is disgraceful that the Police were attacked when they responded to this trouble. I hope that the injured officer will be able to make a speedy recovery."

DUP MP Sammy Wilson said he believed the attacks were "in retaliation for police arrests over the last week and also settling scores in an attempt to stamp paramilitary authority on parts of the town."

He added: "This cannot be allowed to happen. Larne must not drift back to the days of the past and I know that there is no desire for this to happen apart from those who wish to be able to continue their criminality without challenge."

Oliver McMullan, Sinn Féin MLA, commented that while "the responsibility for the attacks lie with the thugs behind it", he thought that the police could also have done more in response to the attacks.

He explained: "Some of the victims of last night's attacks have already been attacked on more than one occasion.

"I had warned that an attack like this was imminent and I'm not convinced that everything, which could have been done by police to prevent it was done.

"The south east Antrim UDA should get off the backs of the people of Larne and disband immediately. The police need to respond robustly to this."

Anyone with information is asked to contact police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

(JP)

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