Scrapping louts will not derail Hallowe’en celebrations- Foyle MLA

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Around 100 teenagers who staged a pre-arranged fight at Ebrington last night will not be allowed to derail the Hallowe’en celebrations in the city, local DUP MLA Gary Middleton has said.

Mr Middleton was speaking after police revealed they will tonight step up patrols after the clashes during a Halloween funfair in Derry last night.

A 15-year-old boy had to be treated in hospital for an injury to his nose after he was assaulted during the fracas in the Limavady Road area.

Mr Middleton said the violence at Ebrington Square may have been pre-arranged via social media and may have been sectarian in nature.

He said: “There has been tensions over the last couple of nights then last night was an orchestrated incident.

“I was talking to the police and they have information this was done through a chat room on social media.

“There was up to 100 involved and there were clashes between them. It lasted for some time and it does look to be sectarian. These people were coming to meet and confront each other.”

Mr Middleton said the groups, aged in their low to middle teens, came from both the city side and the Waterside.

“It was important to point out that this has nothing to do with the fun fair and last night was fantastic both there and in the city centre, there was a great atmosphere and it is important people aren’t put off by such an event. It will not ruin it for the rest of the people. It happened and has been dealt with.”

He added that the young boy injured was not involved in the violence.

Police said they received reports of an altercation between groups of young people in the area of Ebrington Square at around 8.10pm last night.

Confirming they were investigating the matter, a PSNI spokesman said: “Police attended the scene and a number of groups who were in the area dispersed.

“Police will be conducting follow-up enquires into the incidents of last night and, where there is evidence of criminal offences being committed, there will be consequences for those involved.”

The police also issued a warning to young people planning on coming to Ebrington Square this evening and who are intent on causing trouble to stay away.

“Police will be increasing patrols and our visible presence in the area and will have a number of pieces of evidence gathering equipment at their disposal such as body worn cameras and CCTV recording,” the spokesperson said, adding:

“It’s not about spoiling fun, this is about keeping people safe.

“Please consider the consequences if you’re arrested and end up with a criminal conviction. A conviction can damage opportunities to travel, study and get the job you want.

“Parents and Guardians please have this discussion with your children and help them understand the possible consequences of poor decision making.”