Police revisit assessment that loyalist paramilitaries did not threaten port personnel
A senior police official confirmed loyalist paramilitaries were not the source of suspected threats against Northern Ireland port staff earlier this year.
A Stormont committee is examining the circumstances surrounding the Mid 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The staff of the Ministry of Agriculture in the port of Larne was also withdrawn in early February.
Threatening graffiti appeared in the region after the UK left the EU which, under the Northern Ireland Protocol, saw additional checks on goods arriving in the region from Britain.
There have also been allegations that the license plates of staff vehicles have been recorded and negative comments on social media.
Police later said there was nothing to substantiate allegations of involvement by loyalist 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 that they are upholding the decision to remove staff on February 1, saying staff safety was their priority.
Appearing before the committee on Thursday, Deputy Police Chief Mark McEwan said the intelligence services assessment was that “the loyalist paramilitaries were not behind the graffiti” and “did not intend to take part in the graffiti. action around portal activities ”.
“This remains the case today,” he told MPs.
Alliance MP John Blair said Ms Donaghy wrote to the UK Government’s Cabinet Office at the time the staff were withdrawn.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 “systematically given the threat assessment that we do not assess that the loyalist paramilitaries are behind it”.