Newtownards police urge public to have 'fun' over Easter in wake of feud

Ards and North Down Superintendent Johnston McDowell has called for people to enjoy their visit to Ards.

Police in Ards and North Down have urged tourists visiting the area, an residents, over the Easter break to have fun and enjoy their time saying their priority is to "keep people safe".

It comes in the backdrop of a loyalist feud in the area involving what police have described as "expelled members of the UDA".

Homes have been attacked and gangs of masked men have paraded through Ards. On Thursday evening police said a crowd of around 50 men stripped UDA murals from the walls in the Weavers Grange estate.

Earlier in the week hundreds marched through the town in a call for an end to the violence and in particular from a group calling itself the 'Real UFF'.

Senior officers have said the cost of the policing operation in the area was over £75,000.

Police say they are prepared to keep visitors and residents safe as they anticipate an influx of visitors over the weekend and will be responding to the usual issues of community concern such as underage drinking and anti-social behaviour.

“But where offences are being committed, we will take action," said District Commander for Ards and North Down Superintendent Johnston McDowell.

He said he hoped those visiting the area over the break had "a fun and safe Easter".

He said: ”The priority of local police is to keep people safe, both visitors and residents alike.

"Ards and North Down and particularly Bangor, is a busy place at holiday times, which is fantastic for the local economy and small businesses, but with an increased temporary population, comes a specific policing operation.

“With tourists expected from far and wide, we want to make sure everyone gets here safely, offering reassurance to the public that our Local Policing Teams (LPT) and Neighbourhood Policing Teams (NPT) will be on duty for everyone’s safety, particularly around busy train stations, hospitality establishments, beaches and coastal areas.

“With increased visitor numbers, there will inevitably be more traffic on the roads, so we are asking everyone to be patient and to respect other road users.

“Our officers continue to meet the challenges at this time of year and we are committed to keeping people safe. We will be out and about across the Bank Holiday weekend, responding to issues of community concern, including underage drinking and anti-social behaviour.

“Our policing style reflects that, but where offences are being committed, we will take action.

“Finally, I hope those visiting Ards and North Down enjoy their time here and have a fun and safe Easter!”

Translink, meanwhile, has reminded passengers that alcohol is not allowed to be consumed on their services or at stations.

Ian Campbell from the transport provider added: “For anyone considering a day out or short trip, we want to encourage you to use our services for a safe and comfortable journey.

“Over Easter, we work closely with the Police Service of Northern Ireland and the Safe Transport Team, and we will have additional staff and security resources in place at key locations, to ensure everyone has an enjoyable trip.

“We would also kindly remind passengers that alcohol should not be consumed in any station or on-board any of our services and ask everyone to respect our staff who are there to ensure you have an enjoyable experience.

"We're looking forward to welcoming people on board our services this Easter."

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