Larne trouble 'orchestrated under badge of UDA' says PSNI
TROUBLE overnight in Larne was orchestrated "under the badge of the south east Antrim UDA", the PSNI has said.
Wheelie bins were set alight and used as a burning barricade blocking a street, as bricks, bottles and fireworks were hurled at police by a masked gang of up to 40 people.
A petrol bomb was also thrown but failed to ignite during the trouble on Wednesday night in the Linn Road and Antiville Road area of the Co Antrim town.
At one point, a PSNI Land Rover was used to protect vehicles belonging to the public from incoming missiles.
At least four vehicles were also driven around the area at high speed.
No injuries have been reported, and there were no arrests.
Police later recovered three claw hammers and bricks that had been stockpiled for use as missiles after order was restored and the area became quiet by 12.45am.
Superintendent Darrin Jones described the trouble as "reckless and totally unacceptable".
He said police believe it followed activity in the Linn Road area by the PSNI's Paramilitary Crime Taskforce at the weekend.
"My assessment is that this incident was orchestrated and carried out by a criminal gang going under the badge of the south east Antrim UDA," he said.
He added: "We believe this incident followed some proactive activity by the Paramilitary Crime Task Force against some elements of south east Antrim UDA at the weekend.
"The activity was against criminal elements and we believe members of the south east Antrim UDA. It was targeting all sorts of criminality.
"It's an ongoing investigation so I can't elaborate, but what I can say is that this incident last night brought wanton destruction to the Linn Road area of Larne – it inconvenienced the residents of Larne and it caused terror within the Linn Road area."
Supt Jones added there would be "increased police patrols" in the area to help deter any similar incidents from happening.
"I can assure the people of Larne that they will see a visible uplift in police resources in the area tonight and for as long as it takes," he said.
"There will be increased police patrols in the area and the community can be reassured that we will be there to deal with anything that happens."
Danny Donnelly, a nurse and Alliance Party activist in east Antrim, was driving home from work when he came across the burning bins blocking the street.
"I would have been driving up that road, but the whole road was blocked with a barricade that was on fire. There was no way you could have got through there," he said.
He described the disorder as "very disturbing" and a "sinister, violent, threatening thing to happen".