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'Attempts to make me a policeinformer lost me my job'

Connla Young

A Belfast man has claimed he lost his job after attempts were made to recruit him as a police informer.

Matt Johnston, from the republican New lodge area, said police seized his car outside an east Belfast warehouse where he worked last month. according to the father-of-two who has previous convictions, officers demanded to search his car at Castlereagh PsNI station after earlier raiding the house in north Belfast where his children live and visiting a recruitment agency in search of him.

He says that while later walking to the station to pick up his car he was approached by two men as he walked along Dill street, close to the former RUC interrogation centre. the 32-year-old says the men asked him to supply information about two Belfast-based republicans and refereed to his former membership of a residents group set up to support people in Carrick Hill opposed to loyalist parades past st Patrick's Church.

Johnston says that during the encounter the men told him they could arrange for him to lose his job.

In June 2012 he was sentenced to four years in prison after pleading guilty to taking part in a tiger kidnap robbery in 2008. He served nine months in Maghaberry and was released last March due to time already served on remand.

"Is this their new tactic, if you don't work for us we will starve you into it?" he asked.

"they wanted to rattle my cage and test the water with me to see what I was made of. they can lose me as many jobs as they want but I am never going to work for [them]."

Politicians have routinely defended the use of informers to combat dissident republican attacks.

UUP justice spokesman tom elliot recently said that while everyone has the right to question security force tactics "they also have a right to prevent any acts of criminality and I support their right to do that". a spokeswoman for the PsNI said: "We do not comment on intelligence matters and no inference should be drawn from this."

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