Police must be tough on terror, criminality and mob rule

News Letter editorial
News Letter editorial
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The incident in Larne in which dozens of loyalists took to the streets and threw petrol bombs was disgraceful.

It is said to have been spurred by the police efforts to crack down on gang criminality.

The PSNI are blaming the South East Antrim of the UDA for Wednesday night’s incident. Police say that they had to act as a buffer between rioters and civilians.

Sammy Wilson, the DUP MP, said: “We really can’t have a situation where a mob dictate when police take action somebody who they believe maybe has committed a crime.” Roy Beggs, a UUP MLA for East Antrim, was similarly forthright.

The rule of law in Northern Ireland must not be compromised by terrorism, by criminality or by mob actions. Not only must serious crime investigations into all such activity continue, we need large-scale confiscation of illegal profits.

This will need to be a comprehensive, and ongoing project. That is the only way that there is any prospect of godfathers being deterred from seeking to make fortunes out of crime.

There are deep problems in Northern Ireland, in which Britain is pumping money into many areas in a bid to keep the peace. It is almost impossible to keep a close eye on exactly what money is going where.

This is disagreeable given the budgetary pressures in the health service and so on, but would be tolerable if it meant a loosening in the grip of paramilitaries.

Therefore the largesse must be accompanied with toughness. That means no softly worded reports about the reality of terrorist or criminal organisations. They need to be dismantled and if not the authorities sent in. If that means aggressive tactics against smugglers in border areas or fuel cheats in west Belfast or drug dealers in North Down or protection racketeers in north Antrim, then so be it.

The vast majority of people across Northern Ireland are hard working and honest. They need to see those who are not have their illegal gains confiscated and being sent to jail.