Northern Ireland

Man arrested following Facebook allegations released on bail

Person at computer Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption The list comes after a series of paramilitary attacks in the Turf Lodge area

A 29-year-old man who was arrested in connection with social media posts that made serious allegations against a number of individuals from west Belfast has been released on bail.

The arrest followed the search of a house in north Belfast on Friday evening.

It comes after a series of paramilitary-style attacks in the Turf Lodge area.

Police said he had been released on bail pending further enquiries.

On Thursday, Facebook confirmed that it had removed a post on its site which included names and photographs of people accused of anti-social behaviour in the area.

A spokesperson said it had taken the move because the post violates Facebook's community standards.

The PSNI said they were not linking the post to recent shootings at this stage.

Image copyright facebook
Image caption The post has appeared on Facebook

Paramilitary style attacks in west Belfast have doubled in 2016 compared to 2015.

Speaking on the BBC's Good Morning Ulster programme before the post was removed, Sinn Féin MLA Pat Sheehan said that some people on the list had already been shot.

Mr Sheehan said the name of a 26-year-old, who was shot in both legs on Tuesday night, was on the list.

"My understanding is that this man's name has appeared on a list on social media, a list that contains eight names and photographs of people," he said.

Mr Sheehan added that the list accuses people of so-called joy riding.

Image copyright PACEMAKER
Image caption On Wednesday, police said the number of paramilitary-style shootings in west Belfast doubled in 2016 compared to the previous year

There have been a number of shootings since the beginning of the year.

Mr Sheehan said: "A number of people on this list have already been shot and it's my understanding that police have begun to visit others whose names are on this list to warn them about their security."

He said the community did not believe there was a drugs link to the attacks.

"The people who have been shot, and I exclude the couple from last week, mostly have been involved in anti-social behaviour and petty crime.

"It's a well-known fact that the people who are carrying out the shootings actually tax drug dealers and if these people pay up their tax, they aren't being shot.

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption People Before Profit MLA, Gerry Carroll, said he was "deeply concerned" that an "apparent hit list" of people had been published on social media

"The community is having to deal with the fall-out of all of this," he added.

West Belfast People Before Profit MLA Gerry Carroll said he was "deeply concerned" that an "apparent hit list" of people had been published on social media, with three of those on the list being the victims of recent punishment shootings.

"So-called punishment shootings are inherently undemocratic, inhumane and wrong," he said.

"Nobody in west Belfast selected the individuals who compiled this list as their judge, jury and executioner. This is a community that understands the effects of repression and injustice.

"People don't want an even more repressive 'punishment' system foisted upon them without their say."

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