O'Neill calls for PSNI to crackdown on East Antrim loyalist violence
Sinn Féin Leader in the North Michelle O'Neill has written to the PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton to urge him to launch a concerted effort to tackle loyalist paramilitaries in East Antrim.
The Mid-Ulster MLA was speaking following a recent upsurge in loyalist attacks in the area, including a shooting which targeted a children's bedroom.
Michelle O’Neill said:
“Party colleagues and I met with the Chief Constable on August 8th and raised concerns about the activities of loyalist paramilitaries and in particular their role in recent attacks in the Carrickfergus and Larne areas.
"The situation in East Antrim is becoming increasingly intolerable and I am concerned that not enough is being done to tackle the scourge of loyalist intimidation and violence which has now claimed a number of lives.
“I do acknowledge PSNI efforts that have resulted in a number of arrests where persons are subject to due process but the murderous activities of these groups cannot be tolerated.
"I want to commend the courage of local representatives such as my party colleague Oliver McMullan who has been at the forefront of tacking this issue and assisting victims from all communities. However, it is clear there needs to be a more robust approach from the PSNI.
“The most recent upsurge in loyalist attacks in the area, including a shooting that could have resulted in the death of three children, is a new low and a source of real concern.
“I am therefore urging the Chief Constable to make the necessary resources available to reassure local communities.
“It is vital for community confidence that there is evidence of a PSNI crack down on the criminal activities of loyalist paramilitaries that ends their drug dealing, money laundering, loan sharking and intimidation. All of this fuels their campaign of thuggery, intimidation and violence.
“I accept there is an onus on all of us in civic, public and political leadership to confront the scourge of paramilitarism, criminality and organised crime.
“I am therefore requesting a meeting with the Chief Constable with the Sinn Féin Policing Board Team and our local representative Oliver McMullan as soon as possible to discuss this deteriorating situation.”