East Antrim’s MP has said that police should interview Larne bar owners to find out if they received threats as claimed by Sinn Fein Oliver McMullan.
Since Mr McMullan made his allegations to the Press last week, there has been a backlash from those representing the Unionist community.
East Antrim MP Sammy Wilson told the Larne Times that he had sought information regarding these threats but had been unable to find anyone who was prepared to substantiate them.
“It is clear that Sinn Fein at present do have a policy of trying to stir up tensions in Northern Ireland for whatever reasons and I would hope that Oliver McMullan is not making wild allegations to try and resurrect an image of Larne that can do nothing but damage the town.
“In the past republicans have painted a picture of the town which was unwarranted and unfair. It is my experience over recent years that relations within the town have been improving and I know this from the contacts that I have with all communities.
“I have also called on the police to be more forthright in the knowledge that they have about any such threats. Surely the first thing the police should be doing is interviewing all of the bar owners to ascertain whether or not threats have been made to their premises.
“They do not have to identify the particular owners but at least should be able to, from this, give an assurance to the public, if they discover that no allegations of this nature are being made, other than by Sinn Fein.
“If indeed, threats of this nature have been made, then of course they are a matter for concern and the police should then be taking every action to identify those who would try to set community relations back and destroy business in the town.
“There obviously is concern about the tensions between loyalists factions in the town and these have been drawn to my attention and I have spoken to people and the police about incidents which have occurred where other loyalists have been set upon by loyalist gangs.
“I am firm in my view that such law-breaking terrorism is not acceptable, those who perpetrate it should be quickly brought to justice by the police and should be given very harsh sentences.
“We wish to move on, where people can live peaceable lives and those who use thuggery, whether against their own community or other communities, ought not to be tolerated.
“At the same time we must also be aware that there is now a republican agenda to try and destabilise Northern Ireland because they are fearful of Northern Ireland working, they know that many within the catholic community now no longer look towards their republican objectives but are quite happy to live within the Union and only want a good living for themselves and a future for their children and understand that political stability is the way of obtaining this.
“As MP for the area I want to make it clear that I will in no way try to make excuses for those, from whatever community they come, who act in a way which reduces the quality of life for people of all colours, creeds and backgrounds in Larne and I expect that the police and the public would ensure that they act in a way that quickly deals with any who would take us back to the old days,” said Mr Wilson.