Hijacked vehicles used on police in County Antrim riots

The aftermath of Sunday morning's violence

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Police have suffered injuries after a number of hijacked vehicles were used to attack them in counties Antrim and Londonderry.

Six police officers sustained whiplash after rioting in Ballyclare.

Police deployed water cannon and baton rounds were used after a number of petrol bombs and missiles were thrown. Loyalists were believed to be involved.

There have also been reports of trouble in Magherafelt, Carrickfergus, Larne and Ballyduff in Newtownabbey.

During a press conference on Sunday, Chief Inspector Derek MacCamley said 15 vehicles including two buses were hijacked and "a number set alight and used to attack police lines".

He confirmed that five police officers were "injured when a police vehicle was rammed with a hijacked bus" and another was hurt "as a result of masonry thrown".

DUP assembly member Paul Girvan said there was "an uneasy calm" in Ballyclare on Sunday.

He said: "We are just hopeful that we can get a resolution and a way forward and I would just ask for calm heads at the present moment in time.

"We hope and pray that we can keep a lid on things over the next 48 hours."

Politicians, police and community representatives met on Sunday to discuss the violence in County Antrim.

Speaking after the meeting, PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Alistair Finlay said he would conduct a "full review of the issues in Ballyclare, how we reached our decisions and the actions that we took so that we can learn for the future".

The trouble in the Doagh Road and Grange Estate in Ballyclare started at about 2330 BST on Saturday.

Trouble in Ballyclare

Start Quote

The residents of Grange estate in Ballyclare are likening it to a war zone and spoke to me of their terror when a gang of around 100 loyalists attacked the police. ”

End Quote Natasha Sayee BBC Northern Ireland reporter

BBC Northern Ireland reporter Natasha Sayee said it was believed the trouble on Saturday night was in response to police removing union flags which had been put up outside a Catholic church near the Grange estate.

It followed an incident earlier on Saturday when a number of roads were blocked by loyalists in the town.

'Difficult and emotive'

The police had said they were liaising with community representatives to find a peaceful resolution.

It is believed up to 70 members of the loyalist community staged a protest after officers removed some flags.

Mr MacCamley said 12 legal and illegal flags had been removed in compliance with joint protocol.

He described the issue of flags as "very difficult and emotive".

He said: "My officers had engaged in many weeks of meaningful dialogue with all representatives in the community in trying to deal with the flag issue but there are also those in the public who would make complaints about flags flying.

"We judge each case on its own merits and take action accordingly."

Elsewhere, at about 0300 BST on Sunday, police were called to the Leckagh Drive area of Magherafelt, County Derry, to trouble involving up to 50 people close to a bonfire.

Police were attacked by missiles as they tried to remove a barricade.

A Catholic family who have lived in the Leckagh Drive area for 20 years said they were moving out of the estate as they no longer felt safe.

Their home was one of four damaged in overnight attacks. The home and car of a District Policing Partnership member were also targeted.

SDLP assembly member Patsy McGlone called on people with influence in the loyalist community to help "ease tensions".

A 27-year-old man has been arrested in connection with riotous behaviour following the disturbances in Magherafelt.

A number of roads in Carrickfergus, County Antrim, were also blocked by burned out vehicles.

Vehicles damaged in Ballyclare A number of vehicles were damaged during the trouble in Ballyclare, County Antrim

DUP assembly member David Hilditch, who is based in Carrickfergus, was involved in trying to bring calm to the area.

He said the trouble involved "cars, works vans, the hijacking of a bus and damage to people's personal property".

Missiles

He said he was aware of at least five vehicles burned out in Carrickfergus.

In the Ballyduff estate in Newtownabbey, County Antrim, a number of missiles were thrown at police.

In Larne, County Antrim, police and fire crews were attacked by youths wearing balaclavas as they attended suspicious fires at derelict flats.

They were called to the Shanlea Drive area shortly before 0430 BST on Sunday morning.

A trailer was set on fire and blocked the road in Cairngorm Drive until it was removed by police at about 0740 BST.

Chief Inspector MacCamley refused to be drawn into claims that the violence had been orchestrated by loyalist paramilitaries.

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