'No Significant Trouble' Overnight In North

The North's transport company, Translink has reiterated its earlier claim that the destruction of two buses during trouble in Rathcoole in Co Antrim over two consecutive nights has cost the company £400,000.

The first was taken at The Diamond, Rathcoole on Monday night and the driver forced to take it to O'Neill Road where it was set on fire after he suffered a broken nose in an assault the hooded men who took the vehicle.

A second bus was hijacked and burnt after its female driver was dragged out of her cab and punched on Tuesday and the company withdrew services for the area that night.

Meanwhile, as a senior police officer repeated that a UVF gunman was seen in Rathcoole during the trouble and that children as young as 10 were involved in the disturbances, last night, (Wednesday) saw no significant disturbances as the PSNI continued a high-profile presence.

Meanwhile, questions remain over the loyalist ceasefire as, despite the UVF decommissioning weapons in June 2009, the Independent Monitoring Commission said in September that the loyalist paramilitary group sanctioned the murder - in broad daylight - of loyalist Bobby Moffett on the Shankill Road.

Yesterday, the newly elected Progressive Unionist Party (PUP) leader, David Ervine's brother Brian admitted, "there were probably individual UVF members involved".

The admission came as Assistant Chief Constable Duncan McCausland confirmed there had been reports made by Fire Service personnel of a gunman on the streets.

"We believe there were sinister elements that were clearly orchestrating this violence," he said.

Yesterday, a DUP delegation of the two DUP MLAs in North Belfast, Nelson McCausland and William Humphrey, and local Newtownabbey councillor Victor Robinson met the PSNI.

Nelson McCausland said: "The violence at Cloughfern is totally unacceptable. Bus drivers have been attacked, two buses have been burned, along with a number of cars, a community has been disrupted, and the reputation and image of the area have been damaged.

"The cost of the violence has run into many hundreds of thousands of pounds, with the loss of vehicles and the cost in police resources.

"That is intolerable at a time when Northern Ireland, like every other part of the United Kingdom, is facing financial pressure. The cost of the violence will drain money out of the budget and divert money away from much needed services. Everyone loses as a result of this type of violence," he said.

The MLA noted that both Chief Inspector Paula Hilman and Chief Superintendent Henry Irvine were very open about the background to what happened and the way in which the PSNI had handled it: "We appreciated their openness and honesty. They said that there was clear evidence that the first night of violence had been orchestrated. There was also evidence of young children being out on the streets late at night and involved in the trouble," Minister McCausland continued.

"It is important that lessons are learned in situations such as this and I believe that they have been learned. The important thing now is to ensure that they are put into action."

See: Damage From Rioting Tops £400K


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