Minister to quiz police chief over UDA attacks

Chief Constable Ronnie Flanagan is to be asked by the British government why UDA members have not been prosecuted over their role in attacks on nationalists in north Belfast, it emerged today.

Chief Constable Ronnie Flanagan is to be asked by the British government why UDA members have not been prosecuted over their role in attacks on nationalists in north Belfast, it emerged today.

Security Minister Jane Kennedy vowed to raise the issue with the police chief after a delegation of SDLP Assembly members and councillors gave her specific examples of UDA involvement in recent disturbances in north Belfast.

SDLP Police Board member Alex Attwood also confirmed the party had requested a meeting with senior police commanders in areas affected by UDA attacks to discuss policing in flashpoint areas and the activities of the loyalist group.

‘‘We pressed Jane Kennedy on why there did not appear to be sufficient vigour in the prosecution of those directing these attacks given the fact that UDA is not on ceasefire and its commanders are well known,’’ the West Belfast MLA said.

‘‘She agreed to raise it with the Chief Constable.’’

Five days after the UDA’s North Belfast brigade warned it would not tolerate attacks in the flashpoint Limestone Road area, the delegation, which also included North Belfast MLA Alban Maginness and East Derry MLA John Dallat, pressed for more policing resources on the ground.

They also called for more support in the rehousing of those intimidated from their homes.

Mr Attwood said the SDLP had also told the minister of the concern in the wider community at the failure of the authorities to ‘‘get on top’’ of the UDA threat.

‘‘That is having an adverse effect on the community, an adverse effect on policing and on the overall process at a time when that process is getting stronger.

‘‘This was the first in a series of meetings the party is having to raise ongoing concerns.

‘‘They will be raised at tomorrow’s meeting of the Police Board and we have asked for a meeting with senior police commanders.’’

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