East Antrim MLA Roy Beggs Jnr has accused Nationalist parties of playing politics with security and crime fighting in their attempts to local the extension of the National Crime Agency into Northern Ireland. The NCA is replacing the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca), incorporating the work of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (Ceop). It will also house the national cyber crime unit and also cover border policing and economic crime throughout the UK. Sinn Fein and the SDLP combined to employ a procedural device to block an Ulster Unionist motion to establish the National Criminal Agency in Northern Ireland.
Speaking during the debate at Stormont Roy Beggs MLA said:
“Criminals are highly organised in their dealings, should it be drugs, prostitution, people trafficking, money laundering or fraud, and they deal with huge sums of money. We, as a community, must ensure that we fight effectively against that, whether across the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, Europe or the wider world.
It is, therefore, appropriate that there is a rethinking of how that range of activities is tackled. Criminals who are involved in one range of illegal activity are frequently involved in another. Therefore, there is a logic in bringing together that range of specialisms and national organisations to fight crime.”
“If we do not buy into a National Crime Agency, what will we be left with here? What input are we going to have? How are we going to be able to shape how that may operate and deal with issues that arise in Northern Ireland?
I will support a National Crime Agency operating in Northern Ireland. I want it to be as effective as possible… So we really want to ensure that we have protection as much as possible here in Northern Ireland. Among other things, SOCA has some 165 employees in some 80 countries throughout the world. We want to tie into that network to protect our people. I ask everyone to support the motion establishing a National Crime Agency in Northern Ireland.”
Speaking after the Ulster unionist motion was blocked, Mr Beggs said:
“I have to say I was shocked by the level of opposition to this simple measure of fighting organised crime across the UK. Given Sinn Fein’s historic antipathy to the forces of law and order, their attitude is not surprising. However the SDLP’s attitude is sadly reflective of a hard line green stance they have been promoting in recent months. This pan nationalist opposition to UK organised crime fighting, bears out that the Ulster Unionist Party was absolutely right in opposing the devolution of policing and justice powers to Stormont 3 years ago. Clearly some people cannot look at anything which is UK wide with anything other than prejudiced eyes.”