Thursday, October 20, 2005

Loyalist threat remains strong

Dan McGinn:

A LOYALIST paramilitary feud which claimed the lives of four people in Belfast this summer could erupt again, the IMC report warned.

It said the Ulster Volunteer Force, which carried out the four murders in July and August, was an extremely dangerous organisation. It also stuck by its recommendation that financial sanctions should be imposed against the group’s political wing, the Progressive Unionist Party.

The party’s £27,000 annual Assembly grant has not been withdrawn despite a previous recommendation.

Jameson Lockhart, Craig McCausland, Stephen Paul and Michael Green were killed by the UVF over the summer as it waged a bloody vendetta against the Loyalist Volunteer Force.

All were perceived by the UVF to be members or associates of the LVF, but the report said in some cases they had no links at all.

The report noted loyalist paramilitaries groups were responsible for significantly more violence than their republican counterparts.

While the killing of Ulster Defence Association brigadier Jim Gray fell outside the period covered in the report, the IMC attributed the murder of Stephen Nelson, who died in March after an attack in Newtownabbey last September to the group.

The commission could not definitively state the UDA and UVF were behind the sectarian attacks on Catholic families in the North Antrim village of Ahoghill, but it accused both of supporting them.

The IMC also said both the UDA and LVF were both involved in drugs.

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