DUP man injured during another weekend of trouble in Cloughfern

Councillors Billy and Audrey Ball were attacked by masked youths during public disorder in the Cloughfern area on Sunday night. INNT 05-104-FP
Councillors Billy and Audrey Ball were attacked by masked youths during public disorder in the Cloughfern area on Sunday night. INNT 05-104-FP

POLICE were once again attacked and a Newtownabbey councillor was left injured following three nights of disorder at Cloughfern Corner.

On Friday night a suspect device - thought to be a blast bomb but later declared an elaborate hoax - was thrown at police as well as numerous petrol bombs during trouble.

The trouble was clearly pre-planned as 19 more petrol bombs were seized by police and taken away for forensic examination.

Local sources have told the Newtownabbey Times that known paramilitaries were seen in the area giving the order to attack police.

On Saturday and Sunday night police were again attacked as they responded to reports of trouble in the area. A local takeaway business was also damaged during the disruption.

During the disorder Newtownabbey councillor Billy Ball was also attacked and injured.

He and his wife, fellow councillor Audrey Ball, were trying to ease tensions in the area on Sunday evening.

Alderman Ball said that after they identified themselves as DUP councillors to a group of masked youths they were verbally abused and a bollard was thrown at him. The councillor had to react quickly and used his hand to deflect the missile away, leaving him with cuts, bruising and swelling to his right hand.

He told the Times: “We have been talking with people in the area and they are sick to the back teeth of the constant trouble.

“They want the flag back up, but realise it will never happen, all they want is to live in peace and quiet. This disorder is very frightening.

“What we have seen over the weekend was a clear attempt to kill police. It’s shameful, I fought alongside the police during the Troubles when the IRA tried to blow us up and now they are having to deal with this - it’s their own people for goodness sake.

“These protests are furthering no cause; it is time for them to end and for everyone to take a new peaceful direction so that we can all live together without the hindrance of fear and intimidation. We need sensible dialogue to take place.”

He added: “Since this happened there have been a lot of people sending their best wishes which I am very thankful for. It goes to show that there is more goodwill out there than bad.”

Police made one arrest throughout the weekend. A 31-year-old man was charged with resisting police, riot, assault on police and possession of a class B drug, following an incident on Saturday, January 26.

He was scheduled to appear at Belfast Magistrates Court on Monday (January 28).

In response to the violence, protest organisers have said they have cancelled tomorrow (Friday) night’s demonstration in order to work out a way to avoid further trouble.

More coverage in this week’s Times...