Nine officers injured in Ballymena disorder

PSNI Chief Superintendent Davy Beck speaks to the press about the latest violence on NI's streets. Credit: Presseye

A stretch of the M2 motorway has had to be closed overnight to clear debris that was thrown during disorder in Ballymena that injured nine police officers.

A wheelie bin was among the items thrown onto the carriageway on Easter Monday night.

Police responded to an unnotified march by loyalists in the Crebilly Road area of Ballykeel and petrol bombs and masonry were subsequently thrown at officers.

According to the PSNI, the nine officers injured on Monday night – among 41 in total over the last few days - are expected to return to duty on Tuesday.

Not only did their reckless and criminal behaviour place the lives of our officers in danger, but such senseless behaviour shows the blatant disregard those responsible have for the safety of others by throwing debris onto a motorway. It is extremely fortunate no one was seriously injured, or worse.

PSNI Chief Superintendent Davy Beck

Trouble also flared in Carrickfergus, Newtownabbey, and Londonderry.

An 18-year-old man arrested in relation to the disorder in Carrick remains in custody, where he is being held on suspicion of possessing articles for use with petrol bombs.

Mid and East Mayor Peter Johnston has called for calm following what was a second night of unrest in Ballymena and Carrickfergus.

“Whilst there is clearly a significant level of frustration across many communities at present, violence is never the answer and there is no place for it in our borough,” he said.

“I am therefore appealing for calm and strongly urge people not to get drawn into disorder of any kind.”

Unrest of this nature is in no one’s interests and only serves to heighten tensions within local communities, rather than solve them.

Mid and East Mayor Peter Johnston

The PSNI’s North Area Commander, Chief Superintendent Davy Beck, branded the return to violence for another night “extremely disappointing”.

“Yet again, we have seen people make a deliberate decision to damage our communities and target our officers.

“As your Police Service, we are here to protect life and property and to keep people safe, and we will continue to do that.

“However, I am calling on all those who have influence to do what you can to bring an end to this violence as no one wants a repeat of these disgraceful scenes.”

The PSNI on Northland in Carrickfergus near Belfast following sporadic outbursts of disorder Credit: Liam McBurney/PA