Tom Campbell, a member of Newtownabbey Council and Newtownabbey District Policing Partnership, said: “It is appalling that paramilitaries think that they can exploit the fears of local people in a cynical bid to gain government funding.
“The government should not consider funding paramilitary groups in any way whatsoever, let alone be hoodwinked into thinking that paramilitaries can act as neighbourhood watch.
“The only way that criminals can be caught and punished is through the police and courts. The police must do everything they can to catch the thugs who robbed the five pensioners across County Antrim in order to allay the fears of local people. The public should be encouraged to set up neighbourhood watch schemes in co-operation with police and their District Policing Partnership.
“This is yet another cynical ploy by loyalist paramilitaries to get money from the government. If it is not bad enough that these paramilitaries have extorted cash from the community for decades, they now want to get cash from the government and pretend to protect the very same community from criminals.”