Paramilitaries threatening violence during coronavirus pandemic should be ‘ashamed’
The head of the Paramilitary Crime Task Force in Northern Ireland says those threatening violence during the Covid-19 crisis should be “ashamed of themselves”.
Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) Detective Chief Inspector Martin Cummings warned they were taking “a reckless risk with people’s lives” as healthcare workers tackle the pandemic.
“We are aware that people hiding under the convenient flags of various so called paramilitary groupings have been issuing threats to those living within their communities,” he said. “Let me be clear that this has to stop immediately. It is wrong on so many levels and particularly during the coronavirus pandemic when people are adjusting to a different way of life. Threats create fear within communities who are already trying to cope with the pressures of the pandemic.”
Det Chief Insp Cummings said those issuing threats should also think very hard about the impact on frontline health service workers who were already working tirelessly to save people’s lives.
“Paramedics, nurses, doctors and all other NHS and care workers need to be allowed to focus all their efforts on treating and saving people with Covid-19 and other unavoidable injuries and health conditions,” he added. “To add any more stress to their already stretched resource is not only selfish but taking a reckless risk with people’s lives.
“Individuals issuing threats of violence should be ashamed of themselves. It is a strong symbol of the contempt they feel for their own communities and a powerful indicator that they do not care about protecting communities but only about exploiting them and securing power and grip for gangs and gangsters.”
Det Chief Insp Cummings said the Paramilitary Crime Task Force would “continue to disrupt the criminal activity of organised criminals who badge themselves as paramilitaries” and would continue to listen to the community and act on information provided.
The multi-agency Paramilitary Crime Task Force was set up by the PSNI, National Crime Agency and HM Revenue and Customs to tackle all forms of criminality linked to paramilitarism.