Police back assessment that loyalist paramilitaries did not threaten port staff
A senior police officer backed the assessment that loyalist paramilitaries were not the source of suspected threats against staff at the Northern Ireland port earlier this year.
A Stormont committee is examining the circumstances surrounding the Central and East Antrim council’s withdrawal of staff carrying out post-Brexit checks after allegations of loyalist intimidation.
The staff of the Ministry of Agriculture in the port of Larne was also withdrawn in early February.
There were also allegations that the license plates of staff vehicles had been recorded and negative comments on social media.
Police later said there was nothing to substantiate allegations of the involvement of loyal paramilitaries and no evidence of “credible threats” to staff.
Mid and East Mayor Antrim Peter Johnston (DUP) and Chief Executive Officer Anne Donaghy last month told the agriculture committee they are upholding the decision to remove staff on February 1, saying staff safety was their priority.
“This remains the case today,” he told MPs.
Alliance MP John Blair said Ms Donaghy wrote to the UK Government’s Cabinet Office around the time the staff were withdrawn.
He said she wrote that she was “aware of the involvement of paramilitary groups in the recent protests at the port of Larne”.
Mr McEwan said the police had “constantly assessed the threat that we do not believe the loyalist paramilitaries are behind this”.