TOWN CENTRE BATTLEGROUND

The scene at the disturbance in Union Street on Tuesday morning. INLM3011-126gc
The scene at the disturbance in Union Street on Tuesday morning. INLM3011-126gc
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OPEN warfare erupted in the town centre on Tuesday morning as rival groups of the Travelling community confronted each other.

A number of men were arrested during the disturbance and one woman was injured.

Traffic lights at the junction between Millennium Way and Edward Street were damaged, as well as a number of business premises and a bus.

The town’s traffic was thrown into chaos by the damage and the lengthy altercation which ensued.

Eyewitnesses said fighting began in Edward Street between the two groups, before they made their way to Union Street in a number of white vans. One van collided with the other outside the British Legion Club.

Another altercation started, with the two sides throwing insults at each other.

Serious violence was averted by a strong police presence - with five PSNI vehicles on the scene at one stage.

A 32-year-old man was arrested for possession of an offensive weapon, criminal damage and threats to kill.

Two men, aged 29 and 19, were arrested for dangerous driving. All three were taken to Lurgan police station for questioning.

A 36 year old woman received minor injuries during the scuffles.

One eyewitness remarked at the scene: “It’s like something from the wild west or a Roddy Doyle novel.

“I’ve never seen the like of it. People were yelling and gesturing, things were really getting heated. It’s a good job the police were on the scene so quickly to calm things down.”

Another witness said: “This isn’t the sort of thing you expect to see in the town centre in the middle of the day - at pub closing time maybe but not in broad daylight.

“It was just crazy.”

Upper Bann MLA Stephen Moutray condemned the violence, describing it as “totally unacceptable”.

He said: “This was a very alarming turn of events within Lurgan, and certainly one that we do not want to see a repeat of.

“This type of activity is totally unacceptable and could have caused very serious damage and possible loss of life.

“The Travelling community must take responsibility for their actions and I would encourage any individual with any information or that witnessed any such behaviour to contact the PSNI and report it.”

He added: “Additionally, I believe it is time that the Housing Executive abandoned their attempts to create another halting site within Craigavon.

“The Borough has proportionally more Travellers’ facilities than any other area within Northern Ireland, and enough is enough.”

In recent weeks tensions have been evident among Travellers in the area with serious fighting at Legahory.

The ‘MAIL’ has also learned the site at Altmore was the scene of a security alert in June with a device claimed to have been targeting a paedophile in the area.

Anyone who has any information on Tuesday’s incident is asked to contact police at Lurgan on 0845 600 8000.

Or, if someone would prefer to provide information without giving their details, they can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers and speak to them anonymously on 0800 555 111.