Belfast police exploring link between racist crime and loyalist paramilitaries

Trio arrested under the Terrorism Act following a spike in racist assaults and incidents across Belfast
Racist Grafitti in Belfast
Belfast police are investigating whether there is any connection between loyalist
groups and racial crime. Photograph: Stephen Barnes/Demotix/Corbis

Police in Belfast were questioning three suspects on Tuesday night after finding a gun and a quantity of drugs during raids in the east of the city.

The arrest of two men and a woman in east Belfast was an part of a Police Service of Northern Ireland operation to counter a rise in racist attacks over the last few weeks.

There have been at least five recorded incidents of racial intimidation in east Belfast including a young Roma cyclist being showered with a bag of excrement on the Newtonards Road a fortnight ago.

A PSNI spokesman said the men aged 43 and 41 and a 41-year-old woman were detained in the Castlereagh area of east Belfast earlier on Tuesday.

The police spokesman added: “Detectives working as part of Operation Reiner have conducted searches in the Castlereagh area as part of their ongoing investigations into the recent increase of hate crimes being committed across Belfast.

“During the course of these searches, officers recovered a firearm, ammunition and a small quantity of suspected drugs. Two males and a female have been arrested by virtue of Section 41 of the Terrorism Act and they are currently assisting police with their enquiries.”

Given that the arrests were carried out under the Terrorism Act this indicates that detectives are exploring a possible link between the racial violence and loyalist paramilitary groups in the area specificially the Ulster Volunteer Force.

Although the UVF’s political wing, the Progressive Unionist Party, has come out strongly against the spike in racist assaults and incidents the loyalist terror group now operates on a de-centralised level with local units acting independently from its old leadership base in Belfast’s Shankill Road. The east Belfast UVF is known to include members who have been engaged in racist incidents over the last few years.

The latest of these incidents happened on Tuesday morning with graffiti appearing on a gable wall, carrying a racist message against Polish immigrants. It is understood to be on a derelict property and no one was inside at the time.

The PSNI pledged to continue to act against racists invovled in hate crimes in Belfast and beyond.

“Our priority in the coming weeks and months will be enforcement – arrests, searches and charges – to reassure victimised communities that we can act quickly and effectively, and provide a deterrent to people engaged in this criminality.

“However, hate crime is an under-reported crime and as a result, we need to ensure victims have the confidence to report these incidents.”

From The Guardian . Report by Henry McDonald, Ireland correspondent . 14.05.14

Editorial Comment. Apologies for posting this story two months after it was originally published, but we at Liveraf have only just become aware of it. The reason we’re doing so now is because it highlights the kind of racist and thuggish behaviour which members of the paramilitary Ulster Volunteer Force are known to indulge in. As readers will doubtless be aware, that fast rising bunch of thugs and no marks, Britain First, have modelled their organisation on the UVF, courtesy of that God fearing Christian loyalist, Jim Dowson!

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