Larne’s police chief this week urged the local community to get behind them in their inquiries into claims that bar owners had been intimidated by loyalist paramilitaries.
The allegations were made by Sinn Fein Assembly member Oliver McMullan, who claimed that owners of several Larne bars had been warned not to serve Catholics.
“I was approached by a bar owner who wishes to remain anonymous, who told me that a mob of men who purportedly were representing Unionist paramilitaries visited several pubs in Larne on Saturday afternoon warning them not to serve Catholics,” said Mr McMullan.
“I am concerned that the ongoing tensions between Unionist paramilitaries in the Larne area is now manifesting itself in a sectarian campaign against local Catholics.
“Some of the pubs are now considering introducing buzzer style entrances to protect their premises. This would be a retrograde step back into the days of the conflict and the bar owners should not be put under this pressure.
“At a time when people are attempting to promote Larne we see that Unionist paramilitaries are determined to put their stamp on the town making it an unwelcome place for many people, It is important that these threats are lifted so that we can create a town that is welcoming to everyone.”
PSNI Chief Inspector John Magill confirmed police are aware of recent allegations concerning intimidation in Larne town centre.
“I would encourage anyone who is subject to intimidation or threatening behaviour to report this to police as soon as possible. Larne police can be contacted on 0845 600 8000. Alternatively, information can be given anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
“Police are determined to tackle criminality, including intimidation. We are committed to protecting the community against criminal elements,” he said.
“But the bottom line is that we need the assistance of the community so I would again ask that people come forward to help with our inquiries”.