NEWS: EBCI express conerns over East Belfast arrests and seek clarity on conflict related memorabilia 

The East Belfast Community Initiative has expressed “grave concerns” after the arrests of two loyalists in East Belfast on Monday.  

A spokesperson for the EBCI said; 

“We have grave concerns at the circumstances of these arrests. We predicted from the very start of this farce that the agenda was all about felon setting against the loyalist community and more about Fresh Start budget allocations than it was about pursuing genuine crime. 

“The fact that no charges have been brought against either man arrested indicates that this was never anything more that a political stunt to follow the choreography of the political intervention by the Chief Constable last week following senior officers meeting with Sinn Fein. 

“It is our understanding the line of questioning focused almost entirely on legal UVF memorabilia and despite media reports to the contrary the arrests were not on connection with any offences relating to Cantrell Close and associated incidents but rather in relation to a ludicrous investigation into alleged UVF membership. 

“Both men have robustly denied all allegations relating to membership of a proscribed organisation and the ‘evidence’ seized included community development documents and 36th Ulster Division commemorative materials. They were both released after less than 7 hours and both will be submitting complaints to the Police Ombudsman in relation to the circumstances of these arrests.

“We also have very real concerns that the media arrived on the scene at Cantrell Close almost in unison with the PSNI search team. This quite clearly supports our strong belief that this was nothing more than a political stunt for propaganda purposes. 

“The EBCI has been in contact with political representatives who will be raising a number of serious matters with senior PSNI officers on behalf of the men who were wrongly arrested. 

“We have also asked these political representatives to seek clarity from the PSNI in relation to conflict related memorabilia. 

“If the PSNI are going to treat such memorabilia as justification for an arrest, then we look forward to an urgent raid of the republican museum on the Falls Road or Sinn Fein offices selling numerous conflict related terrorist propaganda materials.” 

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