Dissident republicans condemned over threats to car recovery firms
Dissident republican threats against car recovery firms which work for the police are a disgrace, a business leader has said.
Two companies were targeted in arson attacks recently and vehicles were damaged.
The threats were made by the New IRA.
Glyn Roberts, Retail NI chief executive, said: “This is a disgraceful threat to local business owners and their staff.
“These contractors have an important role in assisting the PSNI with recovering vehicles and should be allowed to do their job.”
He said there is no place in 21st century Northern Ireland for any paramilitary group of any kind.
“These gangsters should get off the back of local communities and disband,” he added.
The targeted firms help recover vehicles for criminal investigation.
PSNI assistant chief constable Alan Todd said: “It is appalling that nameless, faceless individuals have chosen to try to threaten and intimidate local businesses and disrupt much-needed services to our communities.
“There should be no doubt that targeting contractors in this way has consequences for local people and may jeopardise criminal investigations, for example if a car used in serious crime can’t be recovered for forensic examination.
“Equally, vehicles left abandoned may become targets for anti-social behaviour, something we know has a real-life impact on communities.
“Those behind this vile threat have no support and I am calling on them to withdraw it immediately and explain their actions to the public.”
A community engagement event involving police answering questions from young people about their use of stop-and-search powers in Londonderry was recently called off.
Demonstrators had vowed to protest against the police presence at the Guildhall.
Sinn Fein policing spokesman Gerry Kelly demanded an end to the intimidation.
He said: “Vehicle recovery firms provide a crucial service to local communities so this threat is bizarre, it is reprehensible and it should be removed immediately.
“If these firms are forced out of business, who is going to remove the vehicles used by death drivers to torture communities?
“Who is going to remove the uninsured, unsafe cars that present a real threat to public safety?
“The people issuing these threats are clearly not interested in public safety or public services. They have nothing to offer but threats and intimidation.
“They should lift this threat immediately and they should get off the backs of the community once and for all.”