Northern Ireland

Carrickfergus: Sammy Wilson says 'law not mediation' needed over loyalist tensions

Castlemara disturbances Image copyright Kevin Scott/Presseye
Image caption The PSNI said 17 people have been arrested in the area since June

The DUP MP Sammy Wilson has said mediation is not the right way to resolve a loyalist dispute in Carrickfergus, County Antrim.

Since May, the PSNI has spent £1.6m policing a row involving the South East Antrim UDA in the Castlemara estate.

Senior officers have called for those involved to talk to each other but Mr Wilson told the BBC that will not work.

Mr Wilson said that "it's the law that should be used, not sitting down and having a chat".

"It sends out all the wrong signals to the people who are law abiding and it sends out all the wrong signals to the people who have to live with the situation," he said.

"It sends out the wrong signals for the future as well," he added.

Image caption Sammy Wilson has ruled out mediation as a way to resolve a loyalist dispute

'Real cause for concern'

The police have said 18 people have been arrested and 10 charged in connection with Castlemara and the loyalist feud.

"This demonstrates our commitment to take paramilitarism out of Castlemara," said Supt Ryan Henderson.

At a Policing Board meeting on Thursday, Assistant Chief Constable Stephen Martin said he was concerned someone was going to "end up hurt or dead".

These offences involve the paramilitary organisation and include drugs, intimidation and possession of weapons.

The Assistant Chief Constable said this was the reason why police officers are being sent in on a daily basis,

A number of searches have been carried out and two handguns seized, as well as cocaine, fireworks, and more than £5,000 in cash.

ACC Martin said the row in the estate was a "real cause for concern" and described the potential for violence as "extremely high".

He said there was no obvious criminal justice resolution and called for the parties involved to undertake mediation to solve the dispute.

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