Belfast Telegraph

Facebook closes group over Northern Ireland murder bid fears

A Facebook group gathering information on security forces in Northern Ireland has been removed from the social networking site.

This followed condemnation from the Police Federation which expressed fears details gathered on officers could be used in murder bids.

The republican group subsequently posted a statement which claimed it was involved in gathering information on alleged harassment by security forces and said it took no responsibility for contributors.

It had more than 300 members when the furore around its content erupted, but shortly after 11am the group was removed.

Police Federation spokesman Terry Spence hit out after details emerged of the group, which had appealed for members to post information on police operations.

The Facebook group's call came in the aftermath of searches carried out in parts of Co Tyrone and Co Londonderry by officers investigating the dissident republican murder of constable Ronan Kerr.

The 25-year-old officer died when a bomb exploded under his car outside his home in Omagh in April.

The Facebook group, called Crown Forces Watch, asked for contributions from across Northern Ireland.

It said: "The aim of this group is to keep people updated on the attacks, intimidation and ongoing harassment by the Crown Forces."

After concerns were raised over the group and the messages and images of police said to have been posted on Facebook, Mr Spence called for the site to be closed down.

"This is a very serious matter and I have been in touch with the chief constable's office this morning," he said.

"I have explained our great concern and asked him to immediately close down the Facebook page and to take immediate action against those who set it up."

He told the BBC that the lives of officers could be at risk from gathering the information.

Policing board member Ross Hussey said the aim of gathering information on security forces could be put to sinister uses.

He also condemned a loyalist group using the social networking site to monitor complaints against police and said it should also be removed.

The Ulster Unionist representative said organisations such as the Police Ombudsman could deal with complaints against the police.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph