05 March 2006

DUP MP stands up for loyalist paramilitaries

Belfast Telegraph

Alan Murray
05 March 2006

North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds is to write to Chief Constable Hugh Orde about police tactics during the raid on the Alexandra Bar last week.

Mr Dodds said yesterday that, while he doesn't condone attempts by paramilitaries to mount illegal displays, he is concerned at the "aggressive" tactics used during the operation.

And he claims the Chief Constable's resolve to 'face down' loyalist paramilitaries contrasts with the 'softly, softly' approach to the IRA.

Said Mr Dodds: "I am constrained at the moment because of the continuing police investigation into what was happening in the Alexandra Bar on Thursday evening and the possibility of criminal proceedings.

"But I have to say that I have a number of questions about aspects of the police raid that concern me.

"Many constituents have asked me was the high-profile raid justified and whether the police use of CS gas in such volumes was justified."

He added: "Without prejudicing any possible legal proceedings, I have to raise with the Chief Constable why his officers made no arrests last year, and again just a couple of weeks ago, when blatant IRA parades were staged in Strabane.

"Unionists have been told that displays of UVF and UDA emblems cause offence in public, yet the Chief Constable appears not to wish to annoy Sinn Fein/IRA over their illegal displays.

"He needs to give us clear answers about whether it is PSNI policy to apply the law as it concerns paramilitaries differently in unionist areas to the way his officers exercise 'discretion' in republican areas."

Police yesterday arrested a woman in connection with the raid. She is the 18th person taken into custody since Thursday's operation.

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