Alleged ‘threats’ halt graffiti removal in Larne

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council has confirmed work to carry out the removal of graffiti has ceased following alleged incidents over the weekend.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 9th February 2021, 6:16 pm

Messages has appeared in the vicinity of Larne Harbour and other areas of the town referencing increasing tensions around the Northern Ireland Protocol and describing port staff as ‘targets’ .

The council employs 12 environmental health officers at the port where they have been carrying out checks since January 1.

The council staff were withdrawn from this work last Monday over concerns for their “safety and welfare” amid allegations over recording of personal vehicle registrations.

Police conducting high visibility patrols in Larne last week.

They returned to work on Friday evening following a threat assessment by the PSNI.

A spokesperson for Mid and East Antrim Borough Council said: “We can confirm work to carry out the removal of graffiti in our borough has ceased following alleged incidents over the weekend.

“These alleged incidents were reported through to the PSNI and a threat assessment requested, which will be used to update council’s risk assessment in regard to our staff and contractors doing their jobs. The safety of all our staff and contractors is always our top priority.”

Sinn Fein’s Oliver McMullan, a Causeway Coast and Glens councillor, has called on Mid and East Antrim Council to clarify reports of threats against contractors hired to remove what he described as “offensive and threatening” graffiti in Larne.

In a statement, Mr McMullan said: “Councillor James McKeown and I met with Mid and East Antrim Council today (Monday) to discuss the recent situation at the port of Larne and offensive and threatening graffiti which appeared in the town.

“We were told that contractors had been hired to remove the graffiti but had been threatened and have withdrawn from the area.

“Any threat against contractors is wrong. Everyone should be able to go about their work free from fear or intimidation.

“We also met with the PSNI and were told that they are unaware of any threat against contractors.

“Mid and East Antrim need to urgently clarify the situation and if contractors have been threatened, then the council needs to report it to the PSNI and bring forward any information which can assist the police in any investigation.”

The PSNI has been asked for a comment.

Michelle Weir, Local Democracy Reporter

Click here to read: Police investigating graffiti threat to Larne ‘border post staff’

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