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Loyalist thugs 'still have a grip on parts of Antrim'

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UDA murder victim Geordie Gilmore

UDA murder victim Geordie Gilmore

UDA murder victim Glenn Quinn

UDA murder victim Glenn Quinn

UDA murder victim Geordie Gilmore

Paramilitaries continue to have a "significant influence on some areas" within Mid and East Antrim, a report has warned.

Drug use is linked to organised crime and paramilitaries and negatively impacts perceptions of safe community within the borough, it concluded.

The findings were reported in Mid and East Antrim District Council's Good Relations Programme 2020-21 Action Plan.

In some areas, the report noted that "paramilitary influence is evident through territorial marking of space".

Concerns remain in relation to the influence of paramilitary and criminal gangs on children and young people in the borough.

A series of high-profile crimes in the borough have been linked to paramilitaries. In January the badly beaten body of Glenn Quinn (47) was found in his Ashleigh Park flat in the Woodburn area of Carrickfergus.

Members of the South East Antrim UDA have been linked to the murder.

Geordie Gilmore and Colin Horner were both shot dead by the organisation in 2017.

The Good Relations report also looks at initiatives which have been implemented to support the Roma community in Ballymena.

In the second quarter of last year, there were 440 "one to one" sessions with Romanian Romas and 446 Bulgarian Romas, and with 399 Romanian Romas and 425 Bulgarian Romas in the third quarter.

Specific needs have been identified by the Racial Equality Strategy to help them to integrate.

In 2020/21, this will continue to include workshops in schools on a wide range of issues.

Belfast Telegraph