Northern Ireland news

Two men charged after Somme commemoration disturbances

Police officers in riot gear deal with disturbances in Carrickfergus on Friday night. Picture by Kevin Scott, Presseye
John Monaghan

TWO men are to appear in court later this month charged in connection with violence in Co Antrim.

Trouble broke out in the Castlemara estate in Carrickfergus on Friday night, after police responded to reports of a large group of men having congregated in the area.

Police said they dispersed men armed with hammers and seized a crossbow.

The disturbances took place on the same night that large crowds gathered in Carrickfergus for a commemoration of the Battle of the Somme.

A 36-year-old man has been charged with causing a dangerous article to be on a road while a 46-year-old man has been charged with riotous behaviour.

Both men are due to appear at Belfast Magistrates Court on Thursday, July 28.

Superintendent Emma Bond said: "Reports suggested some of the males were masked and may have been armed with weapons such as hammers.

"Officers attended and dispersed the crowd seizing a number of items including a crossbow."

Earlier in the evening, a bonfire was set alight at Northlands in the nearby Woodburn estate in the town.

Police were seen removing tyres and pallets from the road as the fire raged in the background.

On Saturday officers conducted follow-up searches in the Castlemara estate.

The Irish News reported in May that tensions between rival loyalists factions were at "boiling point" in the town.

On Wednesday a man was shot in the legs in a paramilitary-style attack in Dunluskin Gardens.

DUP MLA Gordon Lyons said that people would be "very disappointed" at the disturbances, while independent unionist councillor Jim Brown MBE said he believed the violence was connected to Wednesday's shooting.

"From what I hear this is a revenge attack for that particular event," he told UTV.

"What I think is particularly galling is that while the majority of the town were celebrating the sacrifice of the Somme, when nearly 5,000 Ulstermen paid the ultimate price for freedom, those who enjoyed that freedom abused it."

In May there were a spate of incidents in Carrick, including another paramilitary-style assault and two petrol bombs attack on PSNI vehicles.

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