Businesses affected after trouble flares in Woodburn area

Members of the Tactical Support Group were visible in case there was a repeat of the violence. INCT 16-419-RM
Members of the Tactical Support Group were visible in case there was a repeat of the violence. INCT 16-419-RM

A number of local businesses were forced to close early as trouble flared in the Woodburn area of Carrickfergus on Thursday night.

Several retailers were affected due to the disturbances, according to Carrickfergus Policing and Community Safety Partnership chairman, Councillor Andrew Wilson.

Up to 50 people were involved in public disorder around Woodburn Avenue, with barricades burnt and a car hijacked and set on fire. The group dispersed when police entered the area; no-one was injured.

Cllr Wilson indicated he had also heard from several parents, who voiced concern over the impact of the disorder on pupils from nearby Woodlawn Primary.

“Children should not have to witness debris in their community as they walked to their schools,” he added. “I would appeal for those involved to desist and for the community to contact the police with any information they may have.”

Thursday’s disturbances followed a number of earlier searches and an arrest made by police in the area as part of the ongoing investigation for attempted murder and disorder in Larne on March 30.

Meanwhile, a second police operation was put in place on Friday evening following intelligence that further disorder was being planned.

Speaking on Friday afternoon, Assistant Chief Constable Will Kerr said: “We have gathered intelligence which would suggest that the South East Antrim UDA are planning to orchestrate serious disorder in Carrickfergus this evening. I believe they plan to wreck the community as well as attack police officers.

“To combat this, a significant number of police resources and contingencies will be put in place. There is no easy or nice way to police disorder but we will simply not allow these groups to wreak havoc.”

Indicating that 700 people linked to the flag protests have either been charged or reported to the PPS, ACC Kerr added: “We don’t want to spend months of our time and resources chasing young people involved in any disorder. If you do get involved, you face the very real risk of prosecution which can affect the rest of your life.”

There were no reports of any violence in the area on Friday night.