Northern Ireland news

Mark Harbinson arrested in connection with stolen election posters

Leading loyalist Mark Harbinson who has been arrested in connection with stolen eeection posters.

Leading loyalist Mark Harbinson was arrested by police earlier this month in connection with Sinn Féin election posters thought to have been destined for a bonfire.

The 52-year-old from Stoneyford in Co Antrim is believed to have had a number of posters belonging to Sinn Féin councillor Gary McCleave.

In March of this year the Lisburn and Castlereagh Council candidate said his election posters had been stolen just days after they were erected.

The Killultagh councillor said at the time that he had lodged a complaint with the PSNI.

On July 11, Harbinson, who has a conviction for sexually abusing a 13-year-old girl, is thought to have been stopped by police in a car with posters belonging to Mr McCleave.

Harbinson rose to prominence in the 1990s during the Drumcree dispute in Portadown.

He was also a leading member of the Pride of the Village Flute Band in Stoneyford and was accused of heightening tensions in the small village on the outskirts of Lisburn.

A member of the Orange Order, Harbinson rose to prominence during the Drumcree dispute in Portadown. He was expelled from the organisation following his conviction.

In July last year he was acquitted of firearms charges after a three day trial.

A gun, silencer and ammunition were located wrapped in yellow dusters in a biscuit tin in a woodshed in one of the outbuildings at Harbinson's rural home in December 2015.

Sinn Féin have previously called for the burning of election posters on bonfires to be treated as a hate crime.

A PSNI Spokesperson said: "A 52-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of handling stolen goods and criminal damage in the Stoneyford area of Lisburn on the evening of Thursday 11 July.

"The man has since been released on bail, pending further enquiries".

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