A broken window at a house in Newtownards Alamy

Loyalist drug feud has led to attacks on 'homes of young children' in Co Down

Four men were arrested today after a gathering of individuals, some of them masked, in Newtownards.

NORTHERN IRELAND POLICE investigating a spate of attacks on properties linked to a loyalist drugs feud in Co Down have arrested four men.

PSNI Superintendent Johnston McDowell said the arrests were made following the gathering of a group of individuals, some of whom were masked, in Newtownards today.

Speaking at a press conference, McDowell said that the last week had seen a “spate of attacks across our local towns and village” and that the attacks were linked to a feud between drugs gangs.

11 properties in Bangor, Newtownards, Donaghadee and Ballywalter have been attacked, many which were the homes of young children, according to the PSNI.

The gangs involved in the feud are believed to be expelled members of the UDA in south-east Antrim and west Belfast.

The PSNI’s armed response unit officers and tactical support group officers are working with the Paramilitary Crime Task Force to counter the treat posed by the gangs. 

“Today’s arrests bring the total number of people arrested to 10 – that is 10 arrested in connection with attacks on homes by rival factions previously linked to the UDA,” McDowell said.

He described the series of attacks on properties in Co Down as “incredibly reckless”.

We have implemented a robust policing operation to both investigate these attacks and to deter further incidents of violence to families and homes. These attacks are completely unacceptable and incredibly reckless and place our communities at grave risk.”

“We don’t want to see an escalation of violence between these gangs.”

McDowell said he was “aware of speculation and misinformation circulating both locally and online, particularly with regard to the presence of masked men in local schools” but that he could “reassure local people that nothing of this nature has been reported to police”.

Press Association