Not a single arrest in Ballyclare; PSNI’s ACC Jones’ “nothing to see here, move along swiftly” approach backfires

Following on from Mick’s earlier initiative, I have decided to start a Ballyclare Riot Arrest & Charge Watch to keep Slugger readers updated on the PSNI’s progress on this front. In yesterday’s Irish News, PSNI Assistant Chief Constable, Dave Jones, penned a later in which he angrily rejected the charge made in an earlier letter to the paper by a ‘Fra Hughes’ that the organisation was ‘institutionally sectarian.’

Unfortunately for Mr Jones, the facts surrounding the behaviour of his organisation this summer would suggest considerable grounds exist for believing that the PSNI at a leadership level have a different approach to dealing with loyalist rioters and republican rioters. Instead of his letter of reply being the final word, the paper has given extensive coverage today to the disturbing anomalies emerging between the PSNI’s approach to loyalist rioters in south-east Antrim and its actions in other areas of the north following recent violence.

Today’s Irish News leads with a front page declaration that not a single arrest has been made in relation to the Ballyclare rioting and associated supportive riots across south east Antrim organised by loyalists in Carrickfergus, Newtownabbey and Larne. Lest we forget, this was a riot in which loyalists used masonry to attack police officers, an offence which much was made of during last summer’s rioting in Ardoyne and to which a Spanish man received a four year jail sentence. Furthermore,loyalists hijacked and drove a bus into a PSNI land rover during the riot, injuring six police officers.

Yet the PSNI apology issued to loyalists subsequently appears to have been followed up with a determination to not pursue those loyalists involved in the rioting- and, of course, we know that the flags erected outside the catholic church have returned unhindered by the PSNI.

This raises serious questions regarding the credibility of a PSNI which has shown itself only too willing to actively pursue nationalist rioters in Ardoyne in particular. Following rioting in Ardoyne last year, almost 40 people had been arrested by July 27th. During the same period this year, not one loyalist has been arrested in Ballyclare, a stark figure.

The singe night’s rioting in Ardoyne this year appears to have led to some 23 arrests, whilst multiple nights of rioting in East Belfast following the UVF attack on the Short Strand has yielded 21 arrests. Only three arrests have been made in relation to loyalist rioting in Portadown whilst 12 arrests have followed on from trouble in Derry during July.

Slugger readers will also recall that loyalist rioting in south east Antrim last October yielded very few arrests, and to my knowledge no charges have been brought against any of the loyalists involved in the two nights of rioting in Rathcoole.

All of which leads to the unavoidable conclusion that the PSNI are much more comfortable pursuing, arresting and seeking charges against nationalists than loyalists.

I can’t imagine that as being the concluding headline the PSNI were seeking following another contentious marching season. Of course, there could be a series of arrests currently being plotted for the south east Antrim area, in which case our Ballyclare Watch may have some progress to report soon……

  • Wait a minute here. It isnt a given there will be arrests everytime theres a riot, or any offence come to that. On the claim of partiality, theres many a riot in a Nationalist area that there never is an arrest (my ‘nearest riot’ in July was in Armagh where 3 vehicles were hijacked and burnt, people cars attacked and PSNI attacked. Can i have a thread please?)

    Arrests happen when there is evidence available for prosecution. Thats when arrests happen. Not because there were arrests elsewhere.

    Justice and the legal system isnt about a head count.

    But a growing number of Republican commentators appear to want it to be!!!

  • Chris Donnelly


    Did the PSNI apologise subsequent to the riot, following a meeting with politicians and “community leaders”?

    Did the rioting involve sustained attacks on the PSNI, including the driving of a hijacked bus at officers?

    Was there supportive riots across the region simultaneous to the riot?

    Were there riots across the north at the same time in which numerous examples of PSNI officers seeking and arresting those implicated, with charges subsequently brought?

    Didn’t think so……

    Arrests happen because the PSNI pro-actively seek the evidence to make the arrest and subsequent charges.

    The fact that they clearly appear not interested in so doing with regard to the Ballyclare/ south-east Antrim loyalist riots of July (and last October) indicates an institutional mindset distinguishing between rioting.

  • Reader

    Chris – you seem to be making a bit of a meal over a 35:24 arrest ratio. Personally, I would be even happier with 350:240 or 240:350 (either would do).
    But the problem seems to be that you think the arrest numbers are in defiance of some sort of riot scoring system, and you haven’t given us enough clues as to what it is. Have you taken into account the likelihood that the police will prefer to arrest adults than youths, and will also be more likely to make subsequent arrests if the rioting happened in daylight?

  • sonofstrongbow

    Now, now you wait a minute. The PSNI are required to arrest people strictly in line with their representation in the population. Expect the police to be out in force during the Gay Pride parade to meet their LBGT and fundamentalist Christian quotas.

    I was pulled up at a police checkpoint a couple of weekends ago and witnessed a car full of young people being given the once-over. One officer had a laminated card which she was holding up beside the car driver’s eyes. I thought it was something to do with drug-driving but on reflection I now realise it was an eye-width separation guide used to ensure she arrested the right sort of themun.

  • Chris Donnelly

    I have little issue with the arrest ratio in those instances where the PSNI have actually taken an active interest in fulfilling the requirements of their job.

    Those implicated in rioting deserve to face the courts and whatever punishment is meted out.

    I know only too well that, in the overwhelming majority of cases, those involved in rioting are the type of individuals who are a plague on their local communities.

    So my issue is not whether more or less riot suspects are being arrested and charged in Ardoyne, East Belfast, Broadway, Portadown or Derry.

    My concern, and that of anyone interested in actually seeing the emergence of a non-partisan policing service, is that there exists subtantial evidence of a differing approach being adopted by the PSNI to loyalist riots in the south east Antrim area, and that has the potential to affect support for the PSNI.

    Do you not find it strange that, in the bizarre instance of a riot where the PSNI apologised for annoying local loyalists, they have yet to register a solitary arrest?

  • between the bridges

    ‘All of which leads to the unavoidable conclusion that the PSNI are much more comfortable pursuing, arresting and seeking charges against nationalists than loyalists.’
    indeed the HET stats back this up ..

  • Dec

    between the bridges

    Maybe if certain loyalists stopped turning supergrass the HET would stop arresting other loyalists. Just a thought.


    ‘The PSNI are required to arrest people strictly in line with their representation in the population. ‘

    No, they’re required to arrest people breaking the law. Unless you’re suggesting that those loyalists rioting in Ballyclare and Rathcool weren’t breaking the law?

  • sonofstrongbow

    This week I will be mostly offended by: policing in Ballyclare.

  • I can be as guilty as anyone- its hard not to be sometimes when you involve emotional issues- but we really have to try and stop the whataboutery. Its difficult, but its the only way theres every going to be any harmony in this Country.

    This piece is simply whataboutery at its lowest level. Every ‘fact’, every assertion, every piece of ‘evidence’ can be countered by something similar at the opposite end of the spectrum, and all is put together in a blatant politically motivated fashion. The agenda smacks you in the face.

    All riot situations arent the same. Purely on a geographic level, trying to draw similies between incidents in Ardoyne and Ballyclare is like comparing chalk and cheese. Factor in PSNI response times and both number and type of personel, the nature of the trouble, the infrastructure both in terms of security cameras and street lighting, its intensity, etc etc etc.

    Where there are problems and issues they need addressed and challenged. But for many of us there appears to be a serious lack of sincerity, honesty and integrity in these sort of posts. Its all agenda, agenda, agenda.

  • Neil

    Where there are problems and issues they need addressed and challenged.

    Is it an issue if swathes of young Nationalists get the impression that if you riot and you’re a Nationalist you get water cannon, rubber bullets and many arrests; while if you riot and you’re a Unionist you get an apology?

    A few people of late have mentioned to me in conversation about the fact that directly after the UVF launched it’s attack on the Short Strand the police made two arrests (both Nationalist) and that Nationalists seem to be getting lifted straight away.

    If you think young people being wooed by dissidents and subject to a seemingly sectarian PSNI policy is not a problem then fair enough. If you’d like to see the dissidents off the stage then it’s more of a prblem than you think.

    I think Chris’ point is not that Nationalists rioters should be given a by ball like their Loyalist counterparts, rather arrest as many of both sides as possible. And keep your apologies to yourself when you’re upholding the law.

  • tacapall

    The facts speak for themselves and unless the PSNI/RUC whatever you like to call them have some sort of technology that only recognises Nationalist lawbreakers or they are blatantly ignoring the evidence that their equipment records which is the same as they use on Nationalists. It seems to work well day or night in Nationalist areas or are they using evidence given to them by certain nationalist politicians. Either the PSNI technology doesn’t work in loyalist areas or Unionist politicians are not as loyal and law abiding as they make themselves out to be.

  • Chris Donnelly

    This piece is simply whataboutery at its lowest level. Every ‘fact’, every assertion, every piece of ‘evidence’ can be countered by something similar at the opposite end of the spectrum, and all is put together in a blatant politically motivated fashion. The agenda smacks you in the face.

    Where to start…….

    1. The uniqueness of the PSNI’s approach following the Ballyclare/ south-east Antrim rioting has been demonstrated in this and previous posts.

    2. ‘Blatantly politically motivated’, ‘agenda smacks you in the face.’

    I’m sorry, but did you not realise this was a political website? Every blogger on this site has their own political viewpoints, as they are entitled to. Whining about mine because you don’t agree with it is simply not good for your health. Get over yourself, disagree with me and go on with your life.

  • USA

    I have said a few times that I would like to see more arrests. With around 40 nationalists rightly arrested following Ardoyne rioting it is not unreasonable to expect the police to pursue all rioters with the same vigor. The figures will leave the PSNI open to charges of bias; this is grist to the mill for dissident recruiters in nationalist areas.

    The ending of 50/50 recruitment is also a mistake when Catholic representation is only around 28%; again it leaves the police vulnerable to criticism. Unioist political leadership did the police no favors with their short sighted policy of opposing 50/50 recruitment.

    To my knowledge there were no arrests following serious rioting in Rathcoole some months ago. Again this month there were no arrests after serious rioting in BallyClare, Carrickfergus, Larne etc. Gangs of Loyalists also attacked the Short Strand from two different locations in broad daylight.
    Unfortunately the PSNI felt it appropriate to apologize to the thugs, and Peter Robinson invited them in for tea and biscuits. It does make nationalists wonder!

    Unionist political “leadership” has contributed considerably to the “white waters” the PSNI is heading toward. Unionists have not brought pressure to bear on the OO to engage in any meaningful way or called Loyalist paramilitaries for what they are. Instead they prevaricate about ” Loyalist isolation”, “reaction”, “provocation” etc.
    Unionist politicians seem more and more to side with other unionists when they cross swords with the PSNI. This also is a huge strategic error. Indeed we are already seen this summer SF acting more supportively towards the PSNI in terms of action and words, than Unionist leaders and “community representatives”.

    It’s not a zero sum game. Rioting is rioting, thugs are thugs and hoodies are hoodies. The police should be supported in the work they do; that work needs to be fair and transparant. Having the police being representative of the community not only breeds confidence in the police service, but also leads to better policing; which in turn naturally leads back to greater public confidence.

    Unionism is making a big mistake by putting political pressure on the police and not supporting them when the Loyalist shit hits the fan. The police are beginning to look vulnerable and that does not benefit anyone. Shame on Unionism.

  • 1. You have clarified the scenario- it was unique. i.e. one of a kind. It was a totally unique situation. It doesnt have a relevance to any other area, incident or situation because no similie exists. It was UNIQUE.

    2. lol. Im not whining, far from it. Just making sure that those trusting souls who do take what they read at face value get another opinion. Agendas are too be welcomed, however when they masquerade as impartial comment they need challenged.

    As i have stated, there is far too much whataboutery. And equally far too much searching for conspiracy.

  • Not much talk of arrests in relation illegal republican parades

    And Chris if you’re going to state facts get them right

    Ballyclare 37 AEP’s fired No arrests loyalists

    Oldpark 23 AEP’s fired No arrests Nationalists

  • AntrimObserver

    Interesting that the police can produce footage of the nationalists rioters attacking them with a car, but no footage of the loyalist rioters in Ballyclare attacking them with a bus.

    Funny that, eh?

    The police are claiming today that the arrest figures for Ardoyne and Newtownards Road are roughly same – so, they claim, there’s no bias.

    What they didn’t produce was the exact breakdown of these figures. In other words, how many of the 20 or so arrests from the Newtownards Road were loyalists?

  • AntrimObserver

    This, if it is true, I find deeply worrying:

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but did I hear Baggott on local TV recently saying that we’re ‘all God’s children’?

    If, as the above article states, he does hold such fundamentalist beliefs it’s worrying to think he may see some of us as closer to God than others…

  • Comrade Stalin


    Not much talk of arrests in relation illegal republican parades

    Please redress the balance by providing details of illegal republican parades where a riot developed and the police subsequently apologized for causing it.

  • Is it not breaking the law as well ?

    Oh thats right sure we dont have dissidents anymore the PSNI calls them Criminals

  • stewart1

    ‘Not much talk of arrests in relation illegal republican parades’


    But surely the UVF organised rioting and attacks prior to the orange parades in East Belfast was about about begging (using violence) to try and bleed money from taxpayers for the underclass who contribute nothing?

  • Brian

    Dissidents in the ballyclare area will have a much easier job recruiting youths when this kind of “unique” policing regarding riots in close proximity to each other. That is not good for anyone.

    It is hard to understand how there is not a SINGLE EFFING ARREST for the loyalist riot. I don’t understand how that is possible. There is more than enough footage and more than enough cameras in the area to catch one rioter.

    For my part, all rioters should be thrown in the same cell until they rot.

  • Reader

    AntrimObserver: If, as the above article states, he does hold such fundamentalist beliefs it’s worrying to think he may see some of us as closer to God than others…
    Except that’s exactly the opposite of the point he was actually making. Now; if he had said “some of us are God’s children…” you would have had a point.

  • Mick Fealty

    Good luck with this Chris. We should all be watching the state more carefully. One practical problem though is how you prove a negative?

  • Chris Donnelly

    One way is by comparing and contrasting behaviour in similar contexts.

    Having paid another visit to the town of Ballyclare today, I have tomorrow’s thread in the mix and am finalising today’s as we speak.

    Could get quite used to these ‘Watch’ blogs…..;>

  • bumper14

    Out of interest, I wonder how many Nationalists were arrested after the illegal parade ,glorifying sectarian murderers, at Galbally GAA grounds?

  • bumper14

    I am also wondering why the PSNI never have made a single arrest (like the RUC before them) of Republicans who , on an almost nightly basis , riot in the Lurgan area and in other parts of Craigavon?

  • bumper14

    Sorry to drone on but can someone furnish me with details of the Police apprehending just one of the Catholic zealots ,waging the pogrom ,which has driven scores of Protestants out of Rasharkin and Ballymena in the last two years?

  • andnowwhat

    Erm Bumper, as a member of the PUP (don’t bother your arse denying it. I can get posters on to hunt out your admission) who protested against King Rat’s detention re. the Thomas Devlin case, I’d STFU if I were you lest I set the missing Turgon upon you.

    He’d tear you apart if he were here (where the hell is he?)

  • bumper14

    Know what , if I was in the PUP why would I protest against KingRat’s detention seeing he was at enmity with the UVF/PUP?
    And know what else , King Rat was dead before the brutal murder of young Thomas Devlin.
    I must look up this that you talk about and see who it is that must be “borrowing “my user name.
    Who is Turgon?-bring him on.

  • bumper14

    Oh I almost forgot. Know it all can you actually desist from deflection and make a stab at answering my first three queries?