Law or ‘masked thugs’

Police in Derry last night strongly rejected claims that they have ‘abandoned’ nationalist areas of the city.

Vigilante group Republican Action Against Drugs (RAAD) claims the PSNI has “abandoned Catholic housing estates... and offer nationalists no hope.”

In its statement, RAAD adds: “No amount of lofty platitudes and PR stunts can make up for their [PSNI] distinct lack of action.”

However, in response, PSNI commander, Superintendent Chris Yates, says police are in every estate and neighbourhood in the city.

Branding RAAD “masked thugs”, Supt. Yates told the ‘Journal’: “Now, more than ever, officers are working in communities and addressing the concerns that matter to the people.

“So far this year, police have charged 23 people with the supply of drugs. Drugs with an estimated street value in excess of £2 million have been seized by officers in the last three years. More people are coming forward and trusting us with the information that disrupts the sale and supply of drugs in our neighbourhoods. These facts speak for themselves.”

Supt. Yates said that, if police didn’t have to “spend so much time investigating the criminal activities of RAAD, we would have more time and resources to deal with the issues that matter here in Foyle.

“It is disgraceful that these criminals are given even one scrap of publicity,” he added. “The people of Derry need to make a choice - support police and law and order or support masked thugs.”

Last week the PSNI carried out an anti-drugs leaflet drop in the Shantallow area.

Meanwhile, in its statement, RAAD also claimed that it had recently carried out operations in the Shantallow and Waterside areas of the city.

The group said it would not allow areas in Derry with “proud republican” histories to become ghettoes “where honest people are held to ransom...”

“Anyone involved in anti-community activity should modify their behaviour or face the harshest of punishments,” its statement read. The vigilante group this week also claimed responsibility for a number of recent gun attacks in the city.