15 October 2005

Hooked on 'bloodthirsty thuggery'

Belfast Telegraph

Jonathan McCambridge examines the UVF's links with criminality and terror

By Jonathan McCambridge, Crime Correspondent
15 October 2005

FOUR men gunned down over the summer as part of a bitter paramilitary feud has focused the public's attention directly on the "bloodthirsty thuggery" of the UVF.

Long before the Government removed recognition of the terror group's ceasefire it had become apparent the UVF was funding its activities through criminality and trying to wipe out its enemies through the use of terror and intimidation.

While the UVF's feud with the LVF has festered ever since Billy Wright left the fold to form the splinter terror group, hostilities deteriorated this summer into murderous internecine warfare.

The summer months saw the murders of Jameson Lockhart, Craig McCausland, Stephen Paul and Michael Green - all shot dead by the UVF.

Their members were also responsible for the forced departure of a number of LVF members from Garnerville and numerous shootings and explosive attacks.

When police attempted to crack down on a UVF show of strength in north Belfast, it resulted in several hours of serious street disorder in September.

UVF men were also responsible for much of the rioting which flared after Whiterock, including firing live rounds at the security forces.

This, combined with the IMC slamming the UVF's "bloodthirsty thuggery", led the Government to finally declare the group's ceasefire defunct.

The Red Hand Commando - which is closely linked to the UVF - has been blamed for protests at a Catholic prayer service in Carnmoney Cemetery where protesters threatened to dig up the dead.

As well as terror tactics, the UVF is also involved in organised crime to fill its coffers.

The UVF's main source of income is extortion, particularly of the building trade, believed to be endemic in east Belfast.

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