‘They can lose me as many jobs as they want buy I am never going to work for [them] – Matt Johnston, pictured
A BELFAST man has claimed he lost his job after attempts were made to recruit him as a police informer. Matt Johnston, from the republican New Lodge area, said police seized his car outside an east Belfast warehouse where he worked last month.
According to the father-of-two who has previous convictions, officers demanded to search his car at Castlereagh PSNI station after earlier raiding the house in north Belfast where his children live and visiting a recruitment agency in search of him. He says that while later walking to the station to pick up his car he was approached by two men as he walked along Dill Street, close to the former RUC interrogation centre.The 32-year-old says the men asked him to supply information about two Belfast-based republicans and refereed to his former membership of a residents group set up to support people in Carrick Hill opposed to loyalist parades past St Patrick‘s Church.
Johnston says that during the encounter the men told him they could arrange for him to lose his job. In June 2012 he was sentenced to four years in prison after pleading guilty to taking part in a tiger kidnap robbery in 2008. He served nine months in Maghaberry and was released last March due to time already served on remand. “Is this their new tactic, if you don’t work for us we will starve you into it?” he asked. “They wanted to rattle my cage and ttest the water with me to see what I was made of. They can lose me as many jobs as they want but I am never going to work for [them].” Politicians have routinely defended the use of informers to combat dissident Republican attacks. UUP justice minister Tom Elliot recently said that while everyone has the right to question security force tactics “they also have a right to prevent any acts of criminality and I support their right to do that”. A spokeswoman for the PSNI said: “We do not comment on intelligence matters and no inference should be drawn from this.”
With many thanks to : Connla Young, The Irish News.
Tough new approach by NIO
” The government will not hesitate to use all the powers at its disposalaccder the law to counter the residual terrorist threat ” – Mike Penning.
A FORMER Republican prisoner accused of supplying a car to the killers of prison officer David Black has had his release licence revoked. Damien McLaughlin (36) from Kilmascally Road, Ardboe, in Co Tyrone was told last week that his governmentrelease from prison, where he had served a sentence for firearms offences, has been overturned.
It is believed to be the first time a former republican prisoner convicted of an offence committed after the Provisional IRA‘s 1994 ceasefire has had their release licence revoked. McLaughlin is on remand in Maghaberry Prison charged in connection with the shooting of Mr Black by dissident republicans last November. He is accused of being involved in transporting a car belived to have been used in the attack into the from Co Litrim. McLaughlin denies the charge of ‘ preparation of a terrorest-act ‘. Mr Black, a father-of-two, died after gunmen opened fire on his Audi car as he drove to work at Maghaberry Prison.The attack took place on the M1 near Lurgan, Co Armagh. A group styling itself ‘ the IRA ‘ later admitted responsability for the attack. In 2011 McLaughlin was sentenced to four and a half years in prison for weapons offences dating back to 2009. He pleaded guilty to possessing two rifles, a sawn-off shotgun and ammuntion. He also admitted having two silencers, a magazine and two telescopic sights. The haul was discovered in a rucksack liner in the boot of his car which was parked outside the house where he lived at the time. He was released later in 2011 on conditation he serve the remainder on probatition and after serving some time on remand. In September last year he received a suspended jail sentence after being convicted of damaging his cell at Maghaberry Prison during a republican prison protest.
A spokesman for the Northern Ireland Office said the decision to revoke McLaughlin’s release licence was taken after a recommendation from the Parole Commissioners for Northern Ireland that ” he poses a risk of harm to the public which can no longer be safely managed in the community “. NIO junior minister Mike Penning, who revoked the licence on behalf of Secretary of State Teresa Villiers said : ” The government will not hesitate to use all the powers at its disposal under the law to counter the residual terrorist threat.” Mr McLaughlin’s solicitor Peter Corrigan said his client will ” be challenging the legality of the revocation “. UUP justice spokesman Tom Elliot defended the move. ” At this particular time there is a suspected connection with a serious incident which is murder and obviously they need to take all reasonable precautions in those cases,” he said. Two other republicans, Marian Price-McGlinchey and Martin Corey , are also being held in prison after having their release licences revoked. Price (58) was originally jailed for her part in the 1973 Old Baily bombing and released in 1980. However, her relese licence was revoked in 2011 by then Secretary of State Owen Paterson. Corey (63) from Lurgan in Co Armagh was convicted of killing two RUC men in11973 and released from prison in 1992. His licence was revoked in April 2010, again by Owen Paterson.
With many thanks to : Connia Young, Irish News.