Northern Ireland

PSNI: 'UVF behind intimidation of Catholic families'

PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton
Image caption PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton said he wished the UVF did not exist

People claiming to be from the UVF were behind the intimidation of Catholic families from a shared housing area, the PSNI Chief Constable has said.

Police did not know if it was an "organisational position" because the UVF are a "chaotic disorganised crime group", George Hamilton said.

The PSNI warned a number of families in Cantrell Close in east Belfast they were under threat last week.

Four Catholic families left their homes in the area off the Ravenhill Road.

Party leaders in Northern Ireland jointly condemned the threats.

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Cantrell Close was envisaged as a shared housing area to bring communities together

Earlier on Thursday, a group that claims to mediate on behalf of loyalists linked to the UVF in east Belfast said an agreement has been reached to remove loyalist flags from Cantrell Close.

The East Belfast Community Initiative says the flags, which it claims are linked to the historic UVF of 1912, were taken down as a goodwill gesture.

Mr Hamilton said the UVF "has no legitimacy" and is a "scourge on the community".

Image caption There was controversy earlier this year when UVF flags were put up in the area

"People are giving us information but out of fear won't translate that into written statements and go into court and give evidence against these people," he said.

"I just wish the UVF wouldn't be there anymore," he added.

Speaking in relation to alleged dissident republican intimidation of loyalist community workers Mr Hamilton said that the PSNI are investigating and that it is too early to draw conclusions.

More on this story