SECRETARY of State Theresa Villiers and local police have said loyalist rioting in Glengormley which left five police officers injured was “totally unacceptable”.
Violence flared in the Carnmoney Road, Portland Avenue area on Friday night (March 8) around 8.30pm.
Around 100 masked men threw bricks and bottles at the police and set a car on fire, none of the officers injured required hospital treatment.
Windows to a nearby business which neighbours Alliance leaders David Ford’s office, were also smashed.
A peaceful flag protest had taken place in Glengormley earlier in the evening which passed off peacefully.
However, later a group of men arrived and attempted to remove a number of Irish tricolour and republican flags which had been erected by republicans in the area the previous night ahead of the Easter Rising anniversary.
The group then became involved in a confrontation with police.
Police said around 100 people were involved in what they described as “serious disorder”.
Attempts were made to hijack a bus on the Carnmoney Road during the violence. The vehicle was surrounded and two masked men ordered the driver to park it across the road.
Shortly after police intervened and managed to prevent any damage to the police.
Translink representatives said that baring the quick actions of local police “without doubt a bus would have been lost”.
“The actions of those involved were shocking,” Ms Villiers said.
“It is totally unacceptable that policemen were injured as they went about their duty protecting the whole community.
“These protests must come off the streets and allow Northern Ireland’s political leaders to work together towards a resolution.”
Police have said “a very small minority intent on causing disruption and harm” were behind Friday night’s violence and have appealed for information.
Glengormley police inspector Martin Ruddy said: “Attacks like this on police officers, property and the public are unacceptable.
“People in the wider Glengormley and Newtownabbey areas just want to live their lives in peace and without disruption and fear. Incidents like this cause uncertainty and frustration in our community and this frustration is shared by local police.
“Now more than ever we must all work together to ensure that scenes like those we saw on Friday night are not repeated and that those involved in the disorder are held accountable.”
Police are investigating incidents linked to Friday night’s disorder and would like to hear from anyone with information that could assist their enquiries. The number to call is 0845 600 8000.
Or if someone would prefer to provide information without giving their name they can contact the Crimestoppers charity anonymously on 0845 600 8000.”