Sectarian tensions have been simmering in Glengormley as groups of young people have been clashing on a regular basis in the centre of the village.
The anti-social incidents have been condemned by representatives from all sections of the community.
Groups of teens have been involved in confrontational incidents in the Lilian Bland Park, around the top of the Antrim Road and along the Ballyclare Road.
Community representatives have claimed that the clashes are being organised on social media, with teens travelling from towns outside of Newtownabbey to either take part in the disturbances or to spectate.
Antrim and Newtownabbey Policing and Community Safety Partnership (PCSP) held a private meeting to discuss the ongoing issue of the public disorder.
Following the meeting, SDLP Councillor Noreen McClelland said: “Over the past few weeks I have been meeting with concerned parents, police and officers from Antrim and Newtownabbey Council to discuss the problems residents face in the borough.
“Parents have expressed their concerns and feel their young people, from all areas of the borough, do not feel safe in Glengormley town centre. I have been given assurances from the PSNI that they are working with councillors, schools, youth and community groups to address the issues of anti-social behaviour.”
Councillor John Blair commented: “I have urged strongly that we work with the PSNI to try to combat this growing problem. Given the widespread acceptance that the vast majority of those involved do not live in Glengormley, we must do all we can to police and ultimately overcome this anti-social behaviour issue. We must, in the interests of local people including our young people who want their streets to be safe, try to police this problem so that Glengormley is not a gathering point for young people from far outside the town.
“Contact, with community representatives from the areas from which they do come, might be a useful starting point to try to find these youths something to do in their own areas.”
Sinn Fein PCSP member, Councillor Michael Goodman said: “I have been on the street, telling the young people not to get involved in any disorder. A long-term strategic plan is needed to deal with the issue.”
DUP PCSP member, Councillor Stephen Ross, believes that nationalist representatives need to “show leadership on the issue.”
He said: “The nationalist political representatives need to show leadership on the issue. The unionist family have spoken to the police and the young people within the unionist areas, but as far as I can see the nationalist representatives are not engaging with the young people from their community to try and stop the trouble. It is not a unionist problem; it is a problem because they are attacking Protestant youths, but the problem lies solely at the door of nationalist politicians. Right down to Ardoyne and New Lodge, the representatives need to be talking to their young people, but they are not.”
Remarking on the comments made by Councillor Ross, Councillor McClelland said: “I feel it is essential that all politicians work together on this issue. It is unhelpful if comments are made which, rather than addressing the issue, cause more concern and uncertainty. We all have a part to play in keeping this area safe for all our residents.”