'Futile' Lurgan Violence Condemned

Attempts to orchestrate widespread trouble in Lurgan last night have been branded "futile".

Several vehicles were hijacked and burnt out in an apparent attempt to lure police into predominantly republican areas of the town.

The PSNI also confirmed it had received reports of masked men wielding guns, however, it is not believed any shots were fired.

Commuters suffered disruption after two vans were set alight on a railway line, while drivers were advised to avoid the Kilwilkie, Drumbeg and Meadowbank estates.

Chief Inspector Jason Murphy said there was no evidence of petrol bombs being thrown at his officers, and no one had been hurt.

"This was clearly an attempt to draw my officers into the situation to escalate the violence and to cause serious disruption or injury," he said.

Mr Murphy added "robust action" would be taken by police to curb this "unacceptable behaviour".

The violence followed the sentencing of three Lurgan men convicted of plotting to kill police with a mortar bomb.

MLA Delores Kelly said trouble had been expected in the area, but insisted "a very small minority" of people were behind last night's attacks.

"Three young men are beginning long prison sentences to absolutely no purpose whatsoever. What they were up to was futile just as the rioting is futile," she said.

"It can achieve nothing positive for the community or for any political cause. It can only achieve destruction and injury or worse, and the waste of young lives."

Damien McKenna, 26, of Deans Walk, Gary Toman, 24, of Drumnahoe Avenue and Sean McConville, 23, of Kilwilkie Road, all pleaded guilty to planning a bomb attack on police.

Each of the men were given 15 year jail terms.

Sinn Féin MLA John O'Dowd said attempts by gangs to draw people onto the streets last night did not appear "overly successful".

A clean-up operation was underway this morning, while Translink shuttled rail commuters by bus.


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