Carrickfergus attacks increase as tensions rise amid fears someone will get hurt

Tensions are rapidly increasing in a Co Antrim town as residents fear a child could be hurt as a loyalist paramilitary feud esculates.

Police have dealt with an increasing number of incidents in Carrickfergus since the weekend with homes and a business being targeted.

Cars have been burnt out and windows smashed as locals have reported seeing masked men running about the streets.

Local representatives are calling for calm as it is feared a child could get caught in the crossfire during the Halloween holidays.

Cheryl Johnston, a DUP councillor for the area, told Belfast Live she and her colleagues were working with police and other agencies to alleviate tensions and protect members of the public.

“There is so much tension in the area and with the children being off school and out later at night because of Halloween trick or treating, people are worried about people being caught in the crossfire,” she added.

“It’s not what anyone wants in Carrick, it is a generally calm and lovely place but things like this, it is a bad situation at the moment for us.”

It is understood since Saturday night, the situation has worsened but there have been issues in the area for a long time as a South East Antrim UDA feud rumbles on.

In March last year Geordie Gilmore, 44, was shot dead as he travelled along Pinewood Avenue in Carrickfergus in his white Vauxhall Insignia car. Three men are to stand trial this year accused of the UDA feud murder.

One local resident said the community is “furious” about the recent spate of trouble and called on the police to do more to protect people living in the area.

Coun Johnston added: “It is Halloween and there are a lot of children off and families out and about at events in Belfast and locally and the vast majority of people in Carrick do not want anything like this and want to live with their families and friends in peace.

“The worrying thing is if an innocent child is hurt, that is our worry and we are trying to work with police and agencies as much as possible in the background and on the ground to try and alleviate it, it is very sensitive.”

She called for calm heads and for people to work to reduce tensions.

Stewart Dickson, Alliance MLA for East Antrim, said: “I am aware there have been a number of incidents in the town recently which may or may not be related to paramilitary activity, therefore I would call on people to inform the police if they have concerns and also to be vigilant.”

East Antrim MLA Roy Beggs of the Ulster Unionist Party said:

“The homes being damaged by the feuding organised crime gangs in Carrickfergus is adversely affecting families, neighbours and the wider community.

“I am pleased that the police have allocated additional resources and increased patrolling to try to de-escalate the situation.

“I would call on those involved to bring this to an end before someone is seriously injured and I would urge anyone with information of criminal activity to contact the PSNI or Crimestoppers.”

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