Appeal to find Irish Centre brawl suspects
DETECTIVES hunting a gang of thugs who stormed a meeting of their political rivals have questioned three people.
The men were arrested after the Chronicle printed images of 10 suspects caught on camera when chaos broke out at a Tyneside club as members of the left-wing Socialist Workers’ Party held a meeting.
A gang of yobs forced their way into The Irish Centre, on Newcastle’s Stowell Street, and once inside caused mayhem, allegedly throwing punches, setting off fire-extinguishers, chanting and hurling abuse.
Police were able to calm the disorder before it escalated into serious violence and arrested six men at the scene on suspicion of public order offences. They were questioned and released on bail.
However, others involved in the incident fled into the night.
Last month the Chronicle printed images of 10 men police wanted to speak to.
And three more men aged 44, 35, and 24 have since been arrested. They were all questioned and released on bail.
However, Det Sgt Rob Ridley, who is investigating the disorder, is today renewing his appeal to the public to help identify the seven men police still want to speak to.
“It is important that we establish exactly what happened and speak to everyone who was involved with this incident,” he said.
“We have received a good response from the public so far and have made three arrests in connection with this incident in the last month, bringing the total number of arrests to nine. I would urge anyone with any information to come forward and help with our inquiries.”
Police say they are still unclear about what prompted the disorder, which happened at around 6.45pm on September 22, or who was involved.
However, SWP members who witnessed the clash believe they were deliberately targeted by yobs suspected to have links to the far-right English Defence League (EDL).
Yunus Bakhsh said: “I was at another meeting in Newcastle at the time, but I received a call from a young lad there who said the Irish Centre was being attacked by EDL. He said as he was going to the meeting, 20 or 30 of these fellows came running across the road from Rosie’s bar and tried to get into the Irish Centre.”
But Steve Simmons, from the EDL, said the disturbance had nothing to do with the organisation, even if members had been involved.
“As far as I’m aware, this was a private disagreement between two groups of lads that may or may not have been EDL members,” he said. “It certainly had nothing to do with the organisation and wasn’t organised by the organisation.
“Unfortunately we can’t control what our members do in their own lives, even though things like this reflect badly on the organisation.”