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#IinformedThePSNI trend hits Twitter in response to Belfast leaflets as loyalist questions their origin

By Jonny Bell

Published 28/11/2016

The flyer that has been circulated in east Belfast
The flyer that has been circulated in east Belfast
Condemnation: Chris Lyttle

People have expressed their support for the PSNI through a hashtag on Twitter after threatening leaflets about providing information to the police were distributed in Belfast.

Flyers featuring a gunman and the union flag, stating: "All PSNI informers will be put out of this area" were distributed in east Belfast at the weekend.

Loyalist paramilitaries have been blamed, something which has been questioned.

Police condemned the incident as cowardly describing it as an attempt to intimidate a law-abiding community.

"Policing only works in partnership with the community, acting on those things that are of concern to the community in order to keep them safe," said Chief Superintendent Chris Noble.

"Police will continue to apply legitimate pressure to those who prey on local people and who attempt to exercise illegitimate power and cause fear."

The leaflets were placed on cars in east Belfast overnight on Friday. The PSNI said they were a "clear sign" that community policing was having an impact and vowed to "sharpen" their focus on tackling criminality in the city.

In response, scores of people have taken to Twitter to say how they have reported potential crimes to the police using the #IinformedthePSNI.

Among those to tweet was Belfast Telegraph writer Malachi O'Doherty who recalled the time he spotted a burglar in the Botanic area of the city.

 

Alliance MLA Chris Lyttle  Party added his condemnation and urged people to continue to work with the police. "Once again we see faceless people hiding under cover of darkness to make threats against the community," he said.

"It is, however, vital that people continue to support and provide information to enable the PSNI to keep our community safe."

While some have condemned the material, others have questioned if the leaflets originated from loyalist paramiltaries.

PUP activist Ken Wilkinson, speaking during the BBC's Stephen Nolan show asked where the proof was.

"What proof is there that loyalists put these out? Anyone can put things out.

"We have seen in the past where people have tried to demonise certain sections of the community."

He said he had "no idea" where the leaflets had come from, however, he said he would condemn wrongdoing "where he sees it".

When asked why loyalist paramilitaries such as the UDA and UVF had not disbanded, he said they were trying their best, but they had no support.

"But we get condemnation of leaflets that no one even knows who put them up."

"Has the IRA disbanded? Has the republican movements all disbanded - just watch what's coming up."

Earlier this year police hit back after posters bearing the message, 'People Should Not Inform', were erected in parts of west Belfast, Armagh and Tyrone.

Officers in Craigavon used social media to tell the community that "inform" was not a dirty word and highlighted a number of instances where information from the public had led to the apprehension of criminals.

In April, an image of a gunman beside the message, "Loose talk costs lives", and the phrase: "Whatever you say, say nothing" was painted on the 'International Wall' on the Falls Road, Belfast.

At the time, the message was slammed by the SDLP as a throwback to the 1970s and "open intimidation".

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