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Orange hall searched in loyalist threats probe - The Irish News
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News

Orange hall searched in loyalist threats probe

SINISTER: The raids were carried out as part of an investigation into an unnamed loyalist group that threatened police and the Parades Commission and posed with guns for this picture last week
Connla Young

An Orange hall and the home of a notorious loyalist have been searched by police investigating a sinister threat by masked men to the PSNI and Parades Commission.

It is understood Castlerobin Orange Hall, near Lisburn, and the nearby home of Mark Harbinson were raided on Saturday.

Harbinson, who lives in Stoneyford, was released from prison last year after a sentence for molesting a 13-year-old girl and having topless pictures of her on his phone.

The former UDR member maintains his innocence and claims he has been been targeted by the state.

His case was recently referred to the Criminal Case Review Commission.

On Monday the Irish News revealed that the 48-year-old has written a ‘tell-all’ book about the involvement of the “great and the good” with loyalism.

Harbinson’s solicitor Aiden Carlin last night confirmed his client’s house has been searched twice in recent weeks.

“Nothing was taken on each occasion and his focus is on clearing his name,” he said.

The PSNI also confirmed that searches of "a premises and dwelling house" were carried out as part of an investigation into recent threats by an unnamed loyalist group which branded both the police and Parades Commission “legitimate targets”.

Images emerged last week of three masked men sitting with weapons at a table draped with a Northern Ireland flag.

The picture and statement was issued hours after the PSNI fired plastic bullets at loyalist protesters as they attacked police lines in north Belfast on July 13.

Orangemen have been banned by the Parades Commission from marching past nationalist homes in Ardoyne since July 2013.

Castlerobin Orange Hall is near Stoneyford Orange Hall where in 1999 British military intelligence documents were discovered during an RUC raid targeting hardline loyalist group the Orange Volunteers.

The documents contained personal details of around 300 nationalists in the south Armagh and greater Belfast areas.

Harbinson was also alleged to have molested his victim in the Stoneyford hall.

PSNI Detective Inspector Mark McHaffie last night said: “In connection with the recent release of a photograph and statement to the media, from a group purporting to represent disengaged and disgruntled loyalists, police from Belfast acting on information carried out searches of a premises and dwelling house in the Lisburn area on Saturday 18 July. Nothing was found. There were no arrests."

An Orange Order spokesman said no lodge meeting took place at the weekend and added that anyone with information in relation to any illegal activity should contact police immediately.

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