Friday, February 23, 2024


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TWO men have appeared in court after a sudden upsurge in violence between rival drugs gangs in Ards and North Down.

Eleven attacks have occurred within just seven days, including nine petrol bombings and one pipe bomb attack, which sparked a massive police response leading to the arrest of five men from Newtownards, Belfast and Hillsborough.

Three of the men have been released and the remaining two appeared at Ards Magistrates’ Court yesterday morning charged with a variety of offences.

Amid appeals for calm from politicians across the borough, police have confirmed the outbreak in violence is the result of a feud between rival drugs gangs operating under the banner of the UDA in Ards and North Down.

In addition to the attacks on homes, police have revealed there have also been two attempted hijackings and a spate of graffiti being daubed on property.

One 62 year-old man required treatment from paramedics after one of the petrol bombings over the weekend which have been labelled ‘unacceptable’ and ‘particularly reckless’ by the borough’s top police officer, Superintendent Johnston McDowell.

Police activity was stepped up dramatically towards the end of last week and into the weekend and Mr McDowell pledged the increased police activity would continue as the feud shows no signs of abating.

Political reaction has been led by Strangford MP, Jim Shannon,  who said many people in the community are ‘concerned and worried’.

“My message is very simple,” said the MP. “Please stop and think about the members in your community who are frightened and anxious in their own homes.

“There is no space for this kind of behaviour in our town and I am asking you to calm things down. It grieves me to see this destruction and damage and I know there is a better resolution to find,” he added.

Alliance MLAs Nick Mathison and Kellie Armstrong condemned the attacks and urged anyone with information to come forward to the police.

“One attack of this kind in our community is one too many, but to hear of multiple happening over the course of one weekend is immensely concerning,” said Mr Mathison.


“We wholeheartedly condemn all instances of violence and attempts at intimidation. Let it be clear that these cowardly individuals represent nobody other than themselves and their actions stand to achieve nothing but meaningless destruction,” he added.

Ms Armstrong described the attacks as a ‘deliberate assault on the peace and safety of our communities’ and described the attacks over the past week as ‘absolutely sickening’ and without justification,

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