East Antrim Ulster Unionist MLA John Stewart has condemned those behind the latest violent attacks in Larne.
John Stewart MLA said:
“The latest incidents of arson attacks on property and violent assaults on individuals are completely deplorable and I condemn them without equivocation. The police must be given 100% support from the entire community in tackling the gangsters- whether they are operating with or without the sanction and protection of paramilitaries. In meetings Ulster Unionist representatives have had with the police, we have been assured that action is being taken to put the squeeze on the small number of gangsters who continue to put Larne in the news for all the wrong reasons.
“Myself and Roy Beggs MLA, together with Larne Ulster Unionist Councillors Maureen Morrow, Mark McKinty and Andy Wilson have had a series of discussions with the PSNI in recent times. Superintendent Darrin Jones has been left in no doubt that we support the strongest possible police response to the continuing criminality in the Larne area, which stems from a fallout amongst criminals and has little, if anything to do with loyalism as such. There is of course a continuing presence of so called loyalist paramilitaries in the area, and they - like the republican gangs still in existence- need to be rooted out and dealt with under the law. There should be no place for any of these groups in our society - they must be defeated and disbanded.
“Of course all political parties should be unequivocal in their condemnation of these attacks. Unfortunately, Oliver McMullan, the former Sinn Fein MLA, has a political agenda which clouds everything he does and says. He is also no longer an elected representative so would be ineligible for the forum of elected representatives which he is so keen to see established. If he is going to continue to issue statements and if the press are going to continue to quote him, then why has he been so silent on other recent local stories, such as the conviction of a republican bomb maker or the exposure of a large scale fuel laundering and tax evasion scam?
“Dealing with these problems is something which needs the support and cooperation of the entire community and I know the PSNI will be launching a major initiative in the next few weeks.
“The Ulster Unionist Party are crystal clear in our condemnation of criminality from whatever source it comes from. We will continue to support the police in the difficult task they have and expect to see action taken to put the drug dealers, the extortionists, the arsonists, the fuel launderers and all the criminal gangsters out of business and into prison, which is where they belong.”