Detectives from the PSNI’s Paramilitary Crime Task Force investigating criminality linked to the INLA have today (Saturday 6th March) arrested three men following the recovery of a firearm and ammunition.

Detective Inspector Hamilton said: “At approximately 9 o’clock this morning, as part of a proactive policing operation into criminality linked to the INLA, a car was stopped in the West Belfast area resulting in the recovery of a firearm and ammunition. Two men aged 23 and 27 were arrested at the scene on suspicion of Conspiracy to Commit Robbery, Encouraging or Assisting an Offence and Possession of a Firearm with intent to Endanger Life.

A short time later a 30 year old male was subsequently arrested on suspicion of Conspiracy to Commit Robbery and Encouraging or Assisting an Offence.

Detective Inspector Hamilton continued: “I am pleased to report the seizure of this firearm and ammunition to the people of west Belfast and indeed the wider community. We have removed the ability of these criminals, hiding behind the guise of paramilitarism to terrorise members of the community and our city is undoubtedly a safer place today as a result.

Today’s search provides further evidence to the community that; we care about what is important to them, we will listen to what they tell us and we act on the information they provide us. I would therefore encourage members of the community who may have information that could assist our efforts to tackle criminality linked to paramilitaries, to please get in touch.

“Those who involve themselves in this kind of crime should be under no illusion as to our commitment and determination to identify, pursue and arrest anyone suspected of involvement in criminality and see them convicted for their crimes.

“I would appeal to members of the public to come forward with any information about criminality in their area. Anyone with information can call police on 101. Alternatively, information can be provided to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 2800 555 111, which gives people the power to speak up and stop crime.”

The Police Service of Northern Ireland is appealing for anyone who witnessed the incident or anyone with any information that will assist the investigation to contact us on the non-emergency number 101. Information can also be passed anonymously via the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.