‘Paramilitary gangs are active in Mid and East Antrim’ say police

A scene from "Banjaxed".
A scene from "Banjaxed".

Paramilitaries “offer nothing to the local communities which they terrorise”, police in Larne have stated.

The comment was made in response to a play touring youth groups in Mid and East Antrim that tells the story of a group of teenage friends who are “exposed to the “realities of paramilitaries” while growing up.

A scene from "Banjaxed".

A scene from "Banjaxed".

PSNI Larne said that the play entitled “Banjaxed” paints a “gritty picture, featuring punishment shootings, drug dealing and drug use”.

Larne YMCA youth club hosted the play performed by the ‘Spanner in the Works’ production company.

A spokesperson for PSNI Larne confirmed: “These gangs are active in Mid and East Antrim and police and National Crime Agency officers are working on a daily basis to disrupt their activities.

“The term paramilitaries is outdated as they are nothing more than organised crime gangs, devoid of any ideology.

“Their operations are based on control and fear, painting those who oppose them and their ill-gotten gains as touts or worse.

“They offer nothing to the local communities which they terrorise.

“They are defenders of no-one but themselves and loyalty, is merely a word on their murals. It’s far from their only crime. And it’s one of the last lines of the play which sums up society perfectly. It’s time for our future, not your past.”

Larne YMCA said: “The play was hard-hitting but all the young people loved it and enjoyed it with some question time afterwards.

“It is a funny and hard-hitting play which tackles issues such as anti-social behaviour, drugs and paramilitary activity.”

Mid and East Antrim Policing and Community Safety Partnership (PCSP) in partnership with the Department of Justice, are bringing the production by “Spanner in the Works” to youth centres in the borough to raise awareness about the danger posed to children from paramilitary and organised crime groups.

The play, written by Patricia Downey, is based on real life stories from children in Woodlands Juvenile Justice Centre.

Patricia said: “Young people have said the play has challenged them and is not afraid of talking about difficult issues.”