Belfast Telegraph

Crusaders football club's ground searched by UVF probe police

By Allan Preston

The grounds of Crusaders Football Club were among seven places raided in a police crackdown against the north Belfast UVF yesterday in which three people were arrested.

At around 1pm yesterday, five police Land Rovers and a sniffer dog team conducted a search of the bar at Seaview on St Vincent Street, with around five people asked to wait outside.

No arrests were made at the grounds, which will host the Crues' Danske Bank Premiership clash against Belfast rivals Linfield tonight.

A spokesman for Crusaders told the Belfast Telegraph: "The police arrived and conducted searches.

"We don't know the reason for the searches - that's a matter for the PSNI.

"We don't believe it to be a football-related manner."

The PSNI confirmed last night that seven searches were carried out in the Greater Belfast area in relation to ongoing investigations into criminal activity linked to the north Belfast UVF.

Detective Inspector Heather Whoriskey said: "The searches took place in residential and commercial properties during which three people were arrested."

A 56 year-old woman and 39 year-old man were detained in Newtownabbey and a 56 year-old man was arrested in north Belfast.

All three were taken to Musgrave Serious Crime Suite for further questioning.

DI Whoriskey added: "Today's operation demonstrates the PSNI's commitment to tackling all types of criminality linked to paramilitaries.

"While these searches and arrests focused specifically on the north Belfast UVF, we will continue to target all paramilitary groups and disrupt their illegal activities which only serve to blight the communities they operate in."

In June, former north Belfast UVF commander turned supergrass Gary Haggerty was jailed for life after pleading guilty to over 200 terrorist-related charges, including five counts of murder.

Haggarty, who worked as an informant for the police during the Troubles, was interviewed over 1,000 times in an eight-year investigation which became one of the most complex cases in Northern Ireland.

Having agreed to become an 'assisting offender', it's expected his sentence will be reduced in exchange for information on the crimes of other UVF members.

A sentencing hearing is set to take place later this month.

The UVF has also been blamed for a number of recent attacks in the Co Antrim town of Larne.

Belfast Telegraph

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