MP LAMBASTS DRUGS GANGS AS VIOLENCE ESCALATES

    NORTH Down MP Stephen Farry has labelled the drugs gangs engaged in a feud in North Down and Ards as ‘a cancer upon our society’.
    The Alliance politician said it is ‘deeply disturbing’ to witness the violence that has taken place over the past week in which 11 homes in Bangor and Newtownards have been attacked, some with petrol and pipe bombs.
    As two men appeared in court yesterday morning, police have confirmed the outbreak in violence is the result of an ongoing feud between two rival drugs gangs operating under the banner of the UDA in the North Down and Ards areas.
    A total of five men, from Newtownards, Belfast and Hillsborough, have been arrested by police this week, with two charged and the other three all released.
    In addition to the attacks on homes, police have revealed there have also been two attempted hijackings and a spate of graffiti being daubed on property.
    One 62 year-old man required treatment from paramedics after one of the petrol bombings over the weekend which have been labelled ‘unacceptable’ and ‘particularly reckless’ by the borough’s top police officer, Superintendent Johnston McDowell.
    Police activity was stepped up dramatically towards the end of last week and into the weekend and Mr McDowell pledged the increased police activity would continue as the feud shows no signs of abating.
    Political reaction has been led by Mr Farry who has urged public support for the police and criminal justice system to combat the ongoing criminality.
    “It is deeply disturbing to see a feud between UDA connected criminal gangs playing out across Ards and North Down over the past few days, with attacks on a number of properties,” he said.
    “Paramilitaries and criminal gangs are a cancer upon our society. We must support the police and wider criminal justice system in bringing those involved in this spate of violence to justice.
    “Anyone with any information can use the confidential Crimestoppers service,” said Mr Farry.
    “More widely, we must continue to invest in the anti-paramilitary strategy to help reduce and end the influence and coercive control of paramilitaries over our communities.”