Belfast Telegraph

Call for UVF crackdown: Police federation demands get tough policy on loyalists

By Liam Clarke

Rank and file PSNI officers will today call for a crackdown on the UVF.

The Police Federation of Northern Ireland is calling for prisoners who have been released but who become involved in street violence to be sent back to jail and others involved in UVF activity to be charged with membership of an illegal organisation.

The call will be made by Terry Spence, the chairman of the Police Federation of Northern Ireland, in a hard-hitting speech at the organisation's annual conference.

His audience will include Owen Paterson, the Secretary of State, and David Ford, the Justice Minister, who will reply to the chairman's speech.

Mr Spence will give voice to widespread outrage among his members that the UVF was able to stir up sectarian conflict and strain police resources in east Belfast last week.

The loyalist terrorist group, which is supposed to have decommissioned its weapons, also opened fire on police officers in an attempt to kill them.

He will also refer to the threat posed by republican dissidents who also became involved in east Belfast violence.

Mr Spence will tell the conference: "The PSNI is having success against the terrorists, especially through our close working co-operation with An Garda Siochana. Thanks to their magnificent efforts, over 170 people from both sides of the border have been arrested for terrorist offences over the past 12 months."

However, many police believe loyalists are exploiting the dissident threat for their own end.

"Now we also need to make headway against the unrepentant loyalists who think that dissident activity is their local opportunity for more criminality.

"Last week demonstrated that the loyalist paramilitaries are intent on making life as difficult as they can for their local communities and for the police service.

"UVF attacks on their nationalist neighbours resulted in dissident and UVF gunmen making murderous attacks on police officers and civilians."

He will also say: "If being a proscribed organisation is to mean anything then action must be taken. The behaviour of the UVF demands that active members released under the Belfast Agreement on licence should be recalled to prison by the Secretary of State."

Story so far

Trouble at the Short Strand interface last Monday and Tuesday has been described as the worst in the area in a decade. Police have said the violence was orchestrated by the UVF and both loyalists and republicans fired shots. A photographer was shot in the leg by a dissident republican gunman and police Land Rovers came under sustained attack

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