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Wednesday, 29 December, 1999, 21:29 GMT
Loyalist tension blamed for violence

Violence erupted in the social club


Tension between loyalist paramilitary organisations is being blamed for violence which left 12 people injured at the end of a football match on Monday.

Three of the injured men are understood to have been released from prison on bail for Christmas following a High Court application.

Fighting erupted inside Shamrock Park Social Club in Portadown, County Armagh towards the end of an Irish League Premiership game between Portadown and rivals Glenavon.

Four men who were hurt in the clashes were detained overnight in hospital. Two of them are described as being in a serious condition.

Eyewitnesses say a group of men wielding baseball bats or batons, attacked drinkers inside the club near the end of the trouble-free match in which Portadown clinched a two-nil victory.

Police on duty inside the ground ran to the scene and the injured were taken to hospital, mostly with upper body or head injuries.


Mervyn Carrick: Blamed loyalist tensions
Police were later called to Craigavon Area Hospital where fresh fighting broke out as the injured were being treated in the accident and emergency unit.

Democratic Unionist Party Assembly member Mervyn Carrick described the violence as deplorable.

He said loyalist factions were vying for position in Portadown.

He said: "This had absolutely nothing to do with soccer, nothing to do with Portadown FC or Glenavon FC.

"It was hooligans and thugs who decided they would vent their spleen on one another and try to settle some old scores.

"It would appear to be paramilitary-type activity. For some time now in Portadown there has been some tension existing between the three main paramilitary groupings on the loyalist side."

Mr Carrick said he was referring to the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) and Ulster Democratic Association (UDA).

Portadown Football Club has said that it has no connection with the social club, even though it is inside its grounds.

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