CC&G: Coleraine disturbances condemned

DUP MLA Maurice Bradley and local PUP Councillor Russell Watton have issued a joint statement following Friday night’s disturbances in Coleraine, writes Gillian Anderson of the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

Monday, 12th April 2021, 10:52 am

Both elected representatives have been working on the ground to try and end the threat of violence in Coleraine and were informed of a joint meeting on Saturday morning between the two main paramilitary groups in the area that the previous night’s disturbances were wrong and must not be repeated.

Councillor Watton said: “We were asked to attend a meeting this afternoon when we were informed that a joint loyalist front in the area, wished to make it clear that Friday night’s disturbances in Ballysally were not sanctioned, organised or supported and should not have happened.

“During the meeting it was highlighted that loyalism in Coleraine does not condone the destruction of property in loyalist estates, and cannot tolerate the fear inflicted upon residents in these areas, particularly the old and infirm.

Youths block the Portrush Road in Coleraine with a burning barricade

“They (united loyalist front) had been made aware of planned disturbances in other areas of Coleraine on Saturday evening. They are strong in their condemnation, firm that any such actions will not happen.

The joint loyalist group believe Friday night’s disturbances were no more than football hooligans with no connection to loyalism, trying to hi-jack a very volatile and dangerous situation following on from the Protocol. It was also a total lack of respect during the death of the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip.

“It was also pointed out to us that members of the two loyalist groups would be on the ground on Saturday evening to send people home, should they start gathering in numbers,” said Councillor Watton.

MLA Bradley added: “It is important people realise destroying one’s own area is not the answer.

“People are angry, frustrated and tensions are running high.

“Acts of destruction, spreading fear among the elderly and putting lives at risk, including those of rank and file PSNI officers only following orders.

“Disrespect over the death of Prince Philip from some republican quarters only adds fuel to the fire. I appeal to those who feel violence and destruction is the answer that they are misguided and are being used by social media trolls.

“I also appeal for urgent dialogue involving all unionists and such dialogue must include voices of working class Protestants who feel let down by politics and politicians.”