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Disorder in Portadown

16 Jul 2011

At a media facility at Mahon Rd Station today Saturday 16 July Superintendent Jason Murphy said,

"Police in Portadown came under attack in the Corcraine area by a crowd of approximately 100 people firing petrol bombs, stones, bricks, fireworks and other missiles. A number of landrovers sustained substantial damage during the disorder but fortunately no officers were injured. At this stage we believe 19 AEP rounds were deployed by police throughout the disorder.

"The loyalist violence in Corcraine last night did nothing for the good name of Portadown. Local police became aware at approximately 4pm yesterday of an intention by loyalists to stage a peaceful protest. Following requests from both sides of the community for an increased police presence, a policing operation commenced at 5pm and continued until 5am this morning. The sole purpose of that operation was to protect and reassure the local community and this involved more than 100 additional officers.

"During the incident no members of the public or police officers were injured and peace was restored to both communities by 1.30am. Three local men were arrested and are currently in custody.

"It is important to remember here the implications that this not only has on the community but to those young people involved in the disorder. We would remind parents of their responsibility to keep a close eye on their teenage children to ensure that they do not get caught up in this violence and of the long-term implications this could have on them if they are arrested. No one wants their child to start their adult life with a criminal record.

"Throughout the operation local officers liaised closely with representatives from both communities and sought to speak with those who had influence. The peaceful protest that had been assured by the loyalist community took place, but it was clear that there were faceless individuals within the crowd who were intent on violence. No homes within the Nationalist community were directly attacked although we are aware of some damage being caused from missiles thrown into the area of Obins Street.

"Police officers were deployed to the area of Edgarstown bonfire as a Loyalist crowd moved towards it. Those officers themselves came under a sustained and vicious attack. As a police service, we seek to deliver personal, professional and protective policing to all communities, but the answer to tensions within communities does not lie solely with the police. A number of local and political representatives were on the ground last night and I want to commend them for working with us to bring this unnecessary and unjustifiable event to a conclusion. There are others who have influence within the communities and I appeal to them to use that positively to enable the massive progress that has already been made in Portadown to develop further.

"Despite the violence against my officers last night, I can assure the public of Portadown that we remain steadfast in our determination to work with all communities to make Portadown safe. The law abiding people of Portadown want to see peace, harmony and most of all prosperity and we stand ready as a police service to play our part.'

"The cost to the police service following disturbances such as this is of course high but the cost to the community is incalculable. The people involved in carrying out these attacks have inflicted lasting damage on their own communities. Their actions do not reflect the wishes of the vast majority of people who live in the area - who want to live in peace and go about their daily lives without fear or intimidation.

"The Police Service takes a very robust approach to anyone engaging in criminal activity or putting the community at risk. An ongoing investigation into last night's disturbances is underway and a number of people have already been arrested.

"We are aware of tensions concerning flags in the area prior to the disorder. Following concerns raised by several members of the public on both sides of the community police were monitoring the area when officers came under attack. However, it would appear that the disorder was caused predominantly by young people who were absolutely intent on attacking those officers who were protecting both sides of the community."

Superintendent Murphy praised the actions of Unionist and Nationalist community representatives in helping to restore order. He said , "Despite the scale of the disorder the community representatives played a full role in restoring peace to this part of Portadown. It is unfortunate that a significant number of those who rioted paid no heed to those who are representative of their community.

"A considerable amount of work has been done to make this summer peaceful for all the residents in Craigavon but tonight shows that a considerable amount remains to be done. We have built strong relations with those who represent the views of the majority and I would appeal to those with influence to continue to work closely with us. The resolution of tensions can only be achieved from within communities and despite tonight's vicious attack, the local police remain committed to playing our part fully."

A 24 year old male has been charged with Riotous Behaviour and Criminal Damage to appear at Craigavon Magistrates' Court on Monday, 18 July.

A 42 year old male has been charged with Riotous Behaviour, Criminal Damage and Possession of an Offensive Weapon in a public place to appear at Craigavon Magistrates' Court on Friday, 12 August.

A 20 year old male has been charged with Disorderly Behaviour, Resisting Police and Assault on Police to appear at Craigavon Magistrates' Court on Friday, 12 August. (This person was arrested in the Portadown area, but the charges are not directly linked to the disorder in Portadown.)

As is normal procedure the charges will be reviewed by the PPS.