Ulster Unionist MLA Roy Beggs has again called for the National Crime Agency to be engaged to tackle organised crime in East Antrim.
In response to a report by Assistant Chief Constable Stephen Martin to the Northern Ireland Policing Board, on the cost of policing an ongoing loyalist feud in Carrick’s Castlemara estate, Mr Beggs called for “further specialist law enforcement activity to follow the money raised through crime and handled by gang leaders”.
“As a result of the ongoing dispute in South East Antrim, the PSNI have been forced to carry out numerous searches and maintain a police presence in the area. There has been a sizeable police presence over the past few days during searches in Greenisland and Carrickfergus.
“The Policing Board were recently informed of four additional arrests. The police must be supported in following up information of criminal activity. The £1.6m in extra policing costs is from limited public resources which might otherwise have been better spent.
“There have been up to 60 death threats made which are disrupting the lives of the individuals and their families. The local Castlemara Community Association which had been carrying out educational and health activities is no longer functioning. As a result, an already disadvantaged community is being further disadvantaged.
“The paramilitary organised crime gangs must go away or be forced to end their criminal activity by law enforcement. I would urge for further specialist law enforcement activity to follow the money raised through crime and handled by gang leaders. I cannot understand the lengthy delay with the Northern Ireland Executive failing to engage the National Crime Agency through “Fresh Start” funding. There must also be greater transparency and accountability to prevent support from public funds for those who continue to be involved in paramilitarism.
“I would also warn young people to avoid being drawn into such organised crime gangs, as they face a life sentence of involvement with no escape from the gang masters. I would urge the public to continue to give information on criminality to the police or through the confidential Crimestoppers number 0800 555 111.”