New vigilante group issues 'drugs threats'

Seamus McKinney

CONCERNS have been raised over the emergence of a new loyalist vigilante group in Derry. In an echo of Republican Action

Against Drugs (RAAD), the new group, styling itself People Against Drugs, has issued a number of threats in the Newbuildings area in recent days.

A note threatening unnamed targets was sent to chairman of the Ulster Unionists' Foyle constituency association, Ronnie McKeegan who condemned the development.

He said the letter singled out the Primity Crescent and Primity Park areas of Newbuildings, just outside Derry.

"What it said was 'We will be coming to visit those responsible and no warning will be given. We want you out and stay out,' " he said.

The party official said police were unaware of the new group but said they had pledged to step up patrols in Newbuildings.

Rosemount Resource Centre community worker Tommy McCourt, who works as an intermediary between threat victims and republican groups, said the new organisation has not been heard of before.

"It's obviously from a loyalist back-ground. We have links with the loyalist community and we will be making contact to see if we can bring our experience to help any of these people," he said.

The Derry man said that, while the recorded numbers of vigilante threats being issued in republican areas appeared to be rising, in reality he believed the figure was decreasing.

"We are as busy as ever; we had five people in today and nine the other day saying police told them they were under threat," he said.

"But we are finding when we check out these threats through our sources, the organisations don't know anything about them.

"I've asked the police to review their own intelligence sources to make sure the threats they are passing on to people are real."


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