Belfast Telegraph

Crusaders 'perturbed' over police UVF probe searches

Club say police actions a 'smear' on reputation

Northern Ireland football club Crusaders have said they are "perturbed" at police searches at their north Belfast ground saying the "high profile" operation has smeared its reputation.

Searches were carried out at the club's Seaview ground on Monday. It was among seven locations raided by police investigating UVF activity.

Three people were arrested, although none at the football club itself. The club said it had "no truck" with paramilitarism of any kind.

In a statement on Tuesday afternoon, the club said: "On Monday between 2-15pm and 6-15pm officers of the PSNI carried out a search at the premises of Crusaders FC. The sole items confiscated were a flag and a baton, both items which had been removed from away fans at a recent NIFL League match as part of routine match-day management.

"Crusaders FC are perturbed and cannot comprehend the actions of the police in carrying out such a reputationally damaging action in such a public manner.

"Crusaders FC have sought to make Seaview a welcoming and open venue to all and have no truck with paramilitarism, from whichever quarter. Our members, supporters, staff and players come from all communities.

"The high profile search operation could have occurred with our consent at any time, without smearing the club's or the stadium's reputation.

"The PSNI action has damaged Crusaders FC. We can only redouble our efforts to ensure that Seaview remains a welcoming, open and inclusive venue for players, spectators and visitors alike."

Crusaders host Linfield on Tuesday night in a Danke Premiership clash.

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

In a statement after the searches police said they were committed to targeting paramilitary groups and disrupting their activities.

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

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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