UDA feud: masked men strip murals and plaques from walls of housing estate
• 1h ago
Around 50 masked men have moved into the Weavers Grange estate in Newtownards and removed South East Antrim UDA murals and plaques that had been placed on the walls of local properties.
The estate has been at the centre of the ongoing loyalist feud involving rival factions of the UDA.
The men told local residents they were from the “mainstream” loyalist grouping.
There has been a permanent police presence in the area since the feud started three weeks ago.
Officers appeared to have been caught by surprise by the arrival of the gang and protected a home in the area where some members of the deposed faction of the SEA UDA have been barracked in, defying threats to leave.
Over 30 families have left Newtownards since the fighting began in fear of being caught up in the violence.
While a handful have declared themselves homeless, the majority are said to want to return to the area if calm can be restored.
Loyalist feud: Over 30 families flee Newtownards – some from development branded as ‘great place to live’ Women of North Down tell warring UDA factions ‘just leave us in peace’
Police said officers are currently in attendance at Weaver’s Grange in Newtownards this evening following reports that a crowd of men had gathered shortly after 8pm.
North Down and Ards District Commander, Superintendent Johnston McDowell added: “Police evidence gathering resources were already present and additional police resources were immediately tasked to the area.
“Within 15 minutes a further crowd of more than 50 people had arrived on foot into Weavers Grange.
“There was no disorder but the crowd had ladders and removed South East Antrim UDA insignia from the gable ends of houses before leaving.
“An investigation is now underway.”
A spokesperson for Clanmil Housing Association, which owns homes at the Weavers Grange estate, said: “A number of tenants understandably had chosen to temporarily stay with family or friends due to the current situation.
“While some of these people have already moved back to their homes, we are working with the Northern Ireland Housing Executive to support those people who do not currently wish to return.
“We are also working closely with the PSNI on a daily basis, and they are providing support for our staff on the ground. With their support we have taken steps to secure a small number of homes as a temporary measure.
“The situation is changing constantly, and we are staying in close contact with tenants who need us and are providing practical support including emergency landlord duties.
“Our priority is the safety and wellbeing of our tenants, colleagues and contractors and we have met this week with the PSNI, the Northern Ireland Housing Executive and Ards and North Down Council, as well as with community and political representatives, about efforts to address the current situation in Newtownards. Representations are also being made to the Department for Communities about the ongoing reform of housing allocations in Northern Ireland.
“Everyone should be allowed to live in peace and feel safe in their homes. These groups have no place in the future of Northern Ireland and we call on everyone in leadership roles to address this scourge on our society.”