Northern Ireland news

Masked men march around east Belfast amid rising tensions within the UVF

Masked men marching around east Belfast yesterday

Several dozen masked men marched around part of east Belfast yesterday in a show of strength linked to rising tensions within the UVF.

The men walked around Pitt Park, close to the Newtownards Road, for around an hour yesterday afternoon.

The display came amid increased tensions between two rival factions of the UVF in east Belfast.

Videos widely shared on social media show several police officers attending the scene.

A PSNI spokesman said last night: "Police responded to reports of suspicious masked men in the vicinity of the Newtownards Road in east Belfast, this afternoon.

"Officers attended and enquiries are continuing."

Sinn Féin MP Paul Maskey said he was deeply concerned by the footage.

"This gathering is sinister and looks to be an attempt to exert control over the community of east Belfast," he said.

"The PSNI, who attended the scene, must thoroughly investigate this afternoon's incident and ensure that criminal gangs are held accountable for their actions."

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Northern Ireland news