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Police must take action against UVF behind sectarian intimidation

More than a week on from the threats that forced four Catholic families to leave their homes in a shared housing development and the chief constable has publicly blamed the east Belfast UVF for this despicable crime which has appalled people across Northern Ireland.

George Hamilton said because the UVF was such a `chaotic, disorganised, crime group' it was not certain if the intimidation came directly from the leadership or from individuals within the organisation.

But he pledged to `make life difficult' for the paramilitary group which he described as a `scourge on that community.'

The chief constable's confirmation is helpful in terms of determining who is responsible for this repugnant activity, something the victims in this case and the wider public need to know.

However, it is not clear why it has taken so long to clarify the position with the police initially reluctant to even point the finger at paramilitaries.

Mr Hamilton's announcement also comes against a backdrop of criticism of the PSNI's handling of the threats, in particular the way in which the information was relayed to families - including a pregnant woman with a young child - late at night and without supportive measures in place.

A short time before the chief constable named the UVF, flags from that organisation were removed from Cantrell Close, in a move described by the East Belfast Community Initiative as a `gesture of goodwill,' following discussions with DUP MP Emma Little Pengelly.

Such emblems should not have been on display in a mixed estate in the first instance and it seems goodwill does not extend to Global Crescent, which is also part of the shared housing scheme and where flags remain.

The threats issued to the Catholic families - and two Protestant community workers living nearby - should be lifted immediately.

We also need to see a firm response from the police against those who engage in the bullying and intimidation of local people trying to get on with their lives.

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