Police officer hit with brick during Ballyclare trouble

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Loyalist paramilitaries have been blamed for a disturbance in Ballyclare on Friday night (March 7) during which a police officer was injured.

At around 11pm, police responded to reports of a number of masked men, some armed with sticks and bats, gathered in the Green Road area of the town.

Whilst trying to make an arrest, a male police officer was struck on the head by a brick thrown by one of the crowd.

The officer was taken to hospital for treatment, but his injuries aren’t thought to be life threatening.

“Officers were forced to withdraw from the area as the crowd attacked them and their vehicle with a variety of missiles,” a PSNI spokesman told the Times.

“Police returned to the scene a short time later and arrested a 20-year-old man on suspicion of possession of an offensive weapon. The man has since been released on police bail pending further enquiries.”

Meanwhile, on Sunday (March 9) at around 6.30pm a crowd of up to 100 men gathered at The Square in what one local man described as “a show of strength”.

The crowd dispersed a short time later and there were no reports of any violence.

The man, who didn’t want to be identified, claimed that loyalist paramilitaries, some who’d come to the town from other parts of east Antrim, were involved in both incidents.

Police say they haven’t ruled out a paramilitary dispute in the area being the cause of the weekend trouble.

The spokesman stressed that “all lines of enquiry are being followed”.

Investigating officers have appealed for anyone with information about the public disorder on Friday night to contact them at Newtownabbey Police Station on 0845 600 8000 or to call the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.