Open warfare in Tigers Bay

By Evan Short

Two families have been forced to leave their homes in the Tigers Bay area after a week of serious trouble which has seen opposing gangs of masked men attacking vehicles and property in a battle to control the area.

On Monday night (September 29) a gang of up to 30 masked men armed with cudgels, thought to be linked to the mainstream UDA, descended on the area and attacked a number of homes and vehicles in a rampage that lasted up to four hours and resulted in three arrests.

In response, a rival grouping from the Shankill Road numbering up to 150 entered the area on Tuesday night in an apparent show of strength. They were later drawn into confrontation with nationalist youths who came down Duncairn Gardens on Tuesday evening and begin throwing bricks over the interface.

A heavy police presence has been noticeable in the area over the last week and a spokeswoman confirmed they had made a number of arrests into ongoing trouble.

“Police in North Belfast arrested three males aged 21, 25 and 47 years in the Limestone Road area in the early hours Tuesday 30th September on suspicion of possession of offensive weapons.

“It is believed the arrests are linked to an incident in the Upper Mervue Street area the evening before, Monday, 29th September.

“Police were called to the area shortly after 7 pm following the report of a disturbance involving between 20 to 30 masked men.

“During the incident a number of homes and cars in the area were damaged. The three men have been released from police custody pending a report to the PPS.”

The incident involving nationalist youths on Tuesday night was witnessed by local residents who said loyalists drove up Duncairn Gardens and pointed out nationalist youths to police.

One eyewitness told the North Belfast News how police struggled to contain the incident.

“It was about 8pm and about 40 young ones came down Duncairn Gardens from the Antrim Road. They started throwing fireworks and bricks over the peaceline. The police showed up in a jeep and as the group tried to go back up towards the Antrim Road they were stopped. Then two carloads of men arrived and five or six got out of each car. They started shouting at the police and pointing out young ones [from the nationalist group]. Then another two cars arrived with more men. When more police arrived the first two cars sped off.”

The man, who does not want to be identified, said local people confronted the police about the incident.

“We asked them why they let these men get involved but one police woman told us there was too many of them for her to do anything, and to be fair, there was. But they could have got their number plates.”

He said he fears more trouble.

“It doesn’t matter what side it is, we are always caught in the middle.”

In relation to Tuesday night’s incident, Area Commander Bobby Singleton said they were able to defuse the situation.

“Police responded to the report of an alleged attack on a residential property by a group of young nationalists in the Duncairn Gardens area of north Belfast on the evening of Tuesday, 30th September.

“While police were at the scene, a group of local residents gathered in the area (but) officers acted quickly police and maintained order in the area.”

 

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