Hurricane of violence reaches Antrim
Hurricane of violence reaches Antrim

Several towns in County Antrim witnessed their worst ever street violence over the weekend.

Meanwhile, besieged Catholics in Ahoghill yesterday suffered further attacks after being caught up in violence related to the Orange Order parade in Belfast.

Carrickfergus, Larne, Antrim as well as Glengormley and Newtownabbey were disrupted by carjackings and rioting.

In Newtownabbey, a bank was destroyed by arsonists, although its safe survived intact. The office of North Belfast DUP MP Nigel Dodds became engulfed in the arson attack aimed at the business next door.

A bus was hijacked in Antrim town and set alight. Cars were also hijacked and set alight in Carrickfergus and Larne.

Homes of Catholics in Ahoghill’s Brookfield Gardens estate were targeted during the violence

Vehicles were set on fire in Brookfield Gardens and at The Diamond in the centre of Ahoghill and that missiles were thrown at police.

On Saturday evening and Sunday morning, a bloodthirsty mob systematically smashed the windows of dozens of Catholic homes in the village.

Catholics in the village have been targeted by a long-running sectarian campaign this year.

Sinn Féin councillor Monica Digney said: “Brookfield Gardens was effectively sealed off by a loyalist mob with burnt vehicles pulled across the road.

“All of the houses with Catholic families in them or which were previously occupied by Catholics had their windows smashed. This was a brutal and intense sectarian attack as part of an ongoing campaign against Catholics. Conditions for Catholics in Ahoghill are utterly intolerable.”

SDLP councillor Declan O’Loan described the loyalist activity as “a deplorable episode”.

“These were very serious riots in Ballymena and Ahoghill. I am deeply worried that the scale of disturbance was considerably more than first thought. It is now clear that 11 vehicles were burnt out, including a lorry. A caravan has also been burnt out. A number of houses formerly occupied by Catholics had windows broken in Ahoghill,” Mr O’Loan said.

In the nearby Co Derry town of Magherafelt, a historic Catholic church was targeted for the second time in two weeks by sectarian graffiti.

Near Bangor, County Down, a bus was set alight in Conlig on Sunday night after it was hijacked by loyalists.

At Harryville church, near Ballymena, Fr Paul Symonds cancelled church services to prevent any possibility of parishioners being attacked.

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