‘Slow passes by cars filming at Larne port’, but police say no change to Irish Sea border threat assessment

Cars have been observed passing slowly near Larne harbour and taking pictures, but police were unable to identify those responsible, the News Letter has been told.

Monday, 29th March 2021, 7:09 am
Updated Monday, 29th March 2021, 1:20 pm

The PSNI last night said that they were aware of “signs of tension” but that there had been no change to their threat assessment – which last month said that there were no credible threats to those manning the Irish Sea border inspections.

Last Wednesday night the PSNI briefed a meeting of the Mid and East Antrim Policing and Community Safety Partnership.

DUP councillor Gregg McKeen said that the police told the meeting that 2,464 hours of police time, and 390 hours of overtime, been directed to patrols at Larne Port in the past two months.

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That equates to 356 eight-hour shifts – about six such shifts a day in that period.

Cllr McKeen said: “If police believe there’s no threat, why is so much resource and public money being diverted to Larne Port? It doesn’t add up. How much PSNI resource has been directed to other ports in Northern Ireland and why?

“The increased police presence I have no doubt is aimed at providing reassurance, however, it can also have the opposite impact in that it can unsettle and unnerve staff.”
Another source – who is not a member of the DUP – said that during the meeting police said that there were a number of slow car passes at the harbour last weekend, with some cars stopping and occupants taking photos or videos.

The source said that police had told the meeting that they were unable to identify those responsible but had stepped up patrols in the area and discussed additional safety measures which could be taken.

When asked about the claims, the PSNI responded with a statement in which Chief Inspector Stephen Murray said: “We have been carrying out high visibility patrols right across Larne in order to provide reassurance to the local community.

“However, whilst we are aware of signs of tension within the community, there has been no change in our assessment of the threat in this area.

“Our focus and aim is to make Larne and the greater mid and east Antrim area a safer place for the people who work and live here.

“This is something that must be achieved through working in partnership with local residents, community groups and political representatives.”

Earlier this month the News Letter reported that DUP MP Ian Paisley and the Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Peter Johnston, said that a port official had been put out of his home because of a credible threat.

The PSNI would neither confirm nor deny that the individual had been moved due to a threat.

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