Northern Ireland news

Mid and East Antrim council refuses to reveal PSNI threat assessment which allowed staff return to Larne port

Council staff involved in Brexit checks at Larne Port have returned to work
Connla Young

A council which withdrew staff involved in Brexit checks at Larne Port has refused to reveal details of a threat assessment provided by the PSNI.

Staff employed by Mid and East Antrim council were allowed to return to work on Friday after an assessment was received from police.

The council had withdrawn 12 environmental health workers following the appearance of threatening graffiti and claims that car registrations had been taken down.

A claim that the UDA was behind threats was said to have been introduced by chief executive Anne Donaghy.

DUP agriculture minister Edwin Poots later ordered that Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) staff be withdrawn from both Larne and Belfast ports.

Read More: Chief Constable says no credible intelligence of threat to port workers

They were also withdrawn from Warrenpoint, although Newry, Mourne and Down council staff located there continued with their duties.

Last week the PSNI said there was no suggestion of involvement by loyalist paramilitaries and no evidence to support claims that licence plate numbers had been recorded.

James McKeown, the Sinn Féin group leader at Mid and East Antrim council, said he has asked for the threat assessment.

"It would be essential, given the information we were given to pull the workers out, we should see and discuss the evidence that they should go back to work," he said.

"Group leaders made the decision to pull them out and I think it would only be right that it was the group party leaders to return them."

A spokesman for Mid and East Antrim council said: "The PSNI threat assessment is a restricted document.

"Port staff returned following a council risk assessment."

Meanwhile, it emerged last night that contractors brought in to remove graffiti about the Irish Sea border in Larne were forced to stop after receiving threats.

A spokesman for the council said: “We can confirm work to carry out the removal of graffiti in our borough has ceased following alleged incidents over the weekend.

“These alleged incidents were reported through to the PSNI and a threat assessment requested, which will be used to update council’s risk assessment in regard to our staff and contractors doing their jobs.

"The safety of all our staff and contractors is always our top priority.”

It is understood the PSNI has now been asked for a fresh threat assessment.

A spokesman for the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs last night said staff have not yet returned to work.

“The department has received the findings of the formal threat assessment from the PSNI and is currently considering it alongside its own internal risk assessment," he said.

"Any decision to recommence full checks will be informed by both documents.”

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