Belfast Telegraph

Crusaders 'perturbed' after police raid stadium

By Claire Williamson

The PSNI has seized £32,000 along with paramilitary paraphernalia as part of a major crackdown on UVF criminality in north Belfast.

Detectives carried out 14 searches in Belfast and Newtownabbey over two days in operations involving around 100 officers.

Three people were arrested under the Terrorism Act during the searches, which took place in residential and commercial properties.

Crusaders FC's Seaview stadium was among of the locations searched on Monday. In a statement the club said it was "perturbed" at the searches, saying the "high profile" operation had smeared its reputation, adding that it has "no truck" with paramilitarism of any kind.

In response, the PSNI said: "Anyone who has a complaint about the actions of police can contact the office of the Police Ombudsman."

Police said during the two-day operation they seized £32,000, as well as 9,000 contraband cigarettes, an imitation firearm, money lending ledgers, UVF paraphernalia - including flags, fleeces, belt buckles and ties - computers and mobile phones.

They also confiscated furniture, three vehicles and 24 airsoft rifles under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

On Monday a 56-year-old woman and a 39-year-old man were arrested in Newtownabbey on suspicion of terrorism offences. The man was also arrested on suspicion of being a member of a proscribed organisation, namely the UVF.

A 56-year-old man was arrested in north Belfast on suspicion of terrorism offences.

They were last night still being questioned.

Detective Inspector Heather Whoriskey said: "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.

"These people target the most vulnerable members of their communities - people who are struggling to make ends meet or perhaps those who have an addiction and need help. The stark reality is that they are not helping, but instead exerting control and fear over them. We are working hard to rid our communities of the paramilitary groupings, but we need your help.

"I understand that people feel afraid to speak out against these paramilitaries, but police need information from local people - as we will act on information we receive. It may not always be visible and immediate, but please be assured that every piece of information is assessed and acted on."

Anyone with information can contact the PSNI on 101 or anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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