Belfast Telegraph

Ninth arrest in Ian Ogle murder probe - Police detail grip loyalist paramilitaries have on Northern Ireland communities

A senior PSNI detective has said it's "impossible" for people to leave loyalist paramilitaries in Northern Ireland once they join up.

It comes as police made their ninth arrest in the probe into the murder of Ian Ogle - whose family say he was subject to intimation for over 18 months.

Police are investigating a UVF link.

The latest arrest saw a 38-year-old man held. He was taken to Musgrave police station in Belfast city centre for questioning. A 36-year-old man and a 22-year-old man remained in police custody on Friday afternoon.

Detective Superintendent Bobby Singleton, who heads up the Paramilitary Crime Task Force (PCTF), said many young people are forced to join organisations like the UDA and UVF in order to settle their debts and then they struggle to free themselves from their grip.

Mr Singleton was speaking just days after the horrific murder of  Mr Ogle in east Belfast. He was stabbed 11 times in the back on Sunday evening in Cluan Place.

"Once you fall in debt to these organisations they determine how they want to see that repaid," Mr Singleton told the BBC.

"In many instances that can involve you becoming actively involved in activity on behalf of those paramilitary groups.

"It could be holding weapons for them, it could be being involved in targeting or even the distribution of drugs."

The Ogle family have said they were intimidated by loyalist paramilitaries for 18 months before the killing of Ian.

Mr Singleton said members find it impossible to leave due to the fear of being shot or badly beaten if they try.

Detective Superintendent Bobby Singleton.

He added: "We would view many of the paramilitary-style attacks that we see as forms of coercive control being meted out by these organisations.

"In many cases a lot of the young people who become involved with these organisations fear that if they don't go along with what they're told to do they themselves can be the victim of precisely those kind of attacks.

"What I have heard from some of the young people who have found themselves in that situation, and in fact some of the older members, is that they effectively can't leave.

"They've been told that the only way on occasion that they can get themselves out of an organisation is by buying themselves out.

"But then again, what guarantee does that come with that the knock won't come on the door at some point in the future and you won't be asked to do something on behalf of that organisation again."

A child runs past a UVF mural

Mr Singleton said the UDA and UVF remain heavily involved in a wide range of criminal activity.

This is despite the UDA, UVF and the Red Hand Commando releasing statements committing themselves to peaceful and democratic principles of the Good Friday Agreement.

The PCTF focuses on the activities of loyalists and the republican group the INLA, which the PSNI views as crime gangs.

Dissident Republican groups are dealt with by the security service MI5 because they are viewed as a threat to national security.

Mr Singleton said in loyalist communities in Northern Ireland there is still a significant number of people involved with paramilitaries.

He said: "Young people are particularly susceptible to gang-type culture and obviously here in Northern Ireland we have a particular variation on that.

"So it is a problem for us and one I think will be around for the considerable future."

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