Loyalist Communities Council condemns violence in UDA feud

The Loyalist Communities Council has issued a statement on the ongoing UDA feud which has seen a spate of attacks on properties in recent days.

Issued on Thursday afternoon, the statement condemns the "illegal peddling of drugs in our communities and rejects the use of loyalist 'flags of convenience' as a cover for criminal activity".

It comes after a house in Donaghadee was petrol bombed in the latest of a series of incidents police are linking to a feud between rival drug gangs in North Down.

The attack happened in the Beechfield Drive area at around 9.50pm on Wednesday.

There has been 11 homes attack as part of the fall out. In one instance four children were inside a property that was targeted in a pipe bomb attack.

The LCC statement added: "The LCC considers the recent feud in North Down and Strangford to be the work of competing drug cartels. They are not Loyalists.

"We urge everyone to reject their activity and in particular we ask parents to ensure their children are not being used to convey illegal substances.

"We remind the public of the commitments made in our Linenhall Library Declaration against criminality in February 2019.

"In particular that: 'Individuals who use criminality to serve their own interests at the expense of loyalist communities are an affront to the true principles of loyalism.'

"We look to the PSNI to do their job and remove this type of open criminality from our communities."

Properties in Bangor and Newtownards have been attacked with pipe bombs, petrol bombs and bricks in recent days.

Police have thanked the community for their assistance.

Ards and North Down District Commander Superintendent Johnston McDowell said a "robust policing operation" was in place to both investigate the attacks, and deter further instances of violence and damage to homes.

"We have carried out a number of targeted search operations and have arrested five men, two of whom have been charged with offences, including arson with intent to endanger life, and have appeared in court. “I want to take this opportunity to thank our local community who have already been of great assistance to us providing information, both directly to police and via the Crimestoppers charity, this has allowed us to identify individuals involved in this violent criminality and progress our investigations. Their information has been vital and further searches and arrests will come. “I’m aware there has been some unhelpful social media speculation which has added to community concerns. Police will continue to provide regular updates to the community through our social media feeds and through engagement with local elected representatives.” Superintendent McDowell continued: “Along with our high visibility patrols we are working closely with our colleagues in the Paramilitary Crime Task Force who are helping ensure that the full range of policing tactics are available to counter the threat posed by these gangs”. "These attacks are completely unacceptable, incredibly reckless and place our communities at grave risk. We are intent on bringing them to a complete stop, arresting the perpetrators and placing them before the courts. "I want to urge residents of our District to remain vigilant and to report anything that gives rise to concern to us so we can take the appropriate action. Local people will continue to see an increased police presence in the coming days as we maintain pressure on these criminals and work to thwart their efforts to wreak havoc in our communities. "I would also pay tribute to the dedicated efforts of our local police officers who are working day and night to keep the people of Ards and North Down safe.

"Anyone with information that could help us can do so directly by calling 101, or by using our reporting form via http://www.psni.police.uk/makeareport/ . Alternatively information can also be provided anonymously to the Crimestoppers charity on 0800 555 111 or online at www.crimestoppers-uk.org. "In an emergency, call 999 immediately.”

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