POLICE PROBE ALMOST 40 ATTACKS LINKED TO FEUD

18th May 2023 Police and scene of crimes officers pictured at a home in the Killard Avenue area of Newtownards which was attacked and the family car set on fires in an attack which also caused serious damage to the property.

THE number of incidents being investigated in connection with the ongoing loyalist drugs gang feud in Ards and North Down has reached almost 40.

In the latest round of events understood to be linked to the feud, a house and a car were also targeted in petrol bomb attacks in Newtownards on Monday evening.

A petrol bomb was thrown through a window of a house near Bristol Park just after 11pm, and half an hour later, a car parked near Weavers Grange, off the Comber Road, was destroyed in a separate petrol bomb attack.

There were no reports of any injuries from either incident.

On the same day, the Fire and Rescue Service had to put out a fire following an arson attack at business premises in High Street, Bangor, which was reported at around 3am.

Police said they believe the blaze had been caused by an accelerant being poured through the front door.

On Saturday night, the occupants of a house at Talbot Street in Newtownards escaped injury when a petrol bomb was thrown through the back window of the property.

The incident was reported just after 10pm, and a blaze was put out by the Fire and Rescue Service, with police saying the attack could have ‘resulted in more serious consequences’.

On Friday, three families living in the Weaver’s Grange development were threatened, including a family with three disabled children.

Independent councillor Steven Irvine said the families had been left frightened by the threats.

He was unaware however, of the exact nature and details of the threats.

A vehicle was also destroyed in an arson incident on a car at Killard Avenue, Newtownards in the early hours of last Thursday morning, May 18.

The fire caused serious damage the house and prompted the evacuation of a number of nearby homes.

Mr Irvine, who retained his seat on Ards and North Down Council in Thursday’s election, said members of the group calling itself the Real UFF are responsible for ongoing tensions in the area.

Police investigating the ongoing battle between the criminal gangs now say they have recorded 37 incidents of intimidation, petrol bombings and arson related to the feud, since March 22.

In April, there were several days of disorder in the Ards and North Down area linked to the trouble between rival loyalist factions previously associated with the Ulster Defence Association (UDA).

The two gangs, one with previous affiliations to the West Belfast UDA and the other with links to the South East Antrim UDA, have been involved in numerous attacks on property with dozens of threats issued.

Many of the threats and attacks have been targeted at innocent family members of loyalists involved with the paramilitary groups.

The week’s events follow the arrests of three more men in connection with the unrest.

The men in their twenties were charged in connection with a car hijacking in Newtownards last week, and appeared at a special court on Saturday. 

A 50 year-old man, also arrested as part of the investigation, was bailed pending further enquiries.

Police continue to appeal for witnesses to the latest incidents.

“Our investigation is underway and we are appealing to anyone who was in the area at this time or who may have captured CCTV or dashcam footage to contact us on 101 quoting reference number 154 of 22/05/23,” added a spokesperson.

People can also submit a report online using the non-emergency reporting form via http://www.psni.police.uk/makeareport/, or contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or online at http://crimestoppers-uk.org.