22 September 2005

'Bloodthirsty' UVF censured

Belfast Telegraph

150 lives still under threat in loyalist feud

By Noel McAdam
22 September 2005

Almost 150 people have been warned by police their lives may be under threat as a result of the ongoing UVF-LVF feud, Northern Ireland's paramilitary watchdog revealed today.

The Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC) firmly pinned the blame for the ongoing loyalist internecine warfare - which has cost four lives - on the UVF.

It said while the "bloodthirsty thuggery" may have escalated because of local animosities it believed the UVF had decided the time was right to "finish off" the LVF.

The feud had festered since the murder of LVF member Brian Stewart last year, but LVF violence had been "more by way of response".

Some owed their lives to prompt, pre-emptive action by the PSNI, although the "spur of the moment" nature of the attacks had meant police often had missed out on any advance warning.

The Commission's latest report - its sixth - also said the UVF-linked Progressive Unionist Party had failed to emphasise its opposition to the UVF violence in particular.

While it was aware of the view that the PUP is not strong enough to influence the UVF, which tended to take the lead, the IMC said the party could not "have it both ways".

PUP leader David Ervine had said no-one in the party leadership was in the leadership of the UVF, and it was contrary to natural justice to punish people who had not broken the law.

But the IMC said the PUP had to decide whether to dissociate itself from the paramilitary organisation or accept the consequences of the link - and the feud made that "all the more important".

East Belfast Assembly member Mr Ervine said today he had no further comment to make.

The report, sent to the Government weeks ago, led to Secretary of State Peter Hain withdrawing Government recognition of the UVF ceasefire and renewing financial penalties against the PUP.

The IMC said the feud had led to the murders in July and August of Jameson Lockhart, Craig McCausland, Stephen Paul and Michael Green among a total of 49 incidents, which included:

--17 attempted murders

--shootings and the use of petrol bombs or explosives;

--forced departure of families from Garnerville, and arson and other attacks on taxis on the Crumlin Road;

--criminal damage including a vehicle ramming.

But neither organisation was named in relation to the killings of 25-year-old Lisa Dorrian, who vanished after a caravan site party in Ballyhalbert in February, and schoolboy Thomas Devlin (15), stabbed to death near his north Belfast home in August.

Recognising they were expected to refer to both, the IMC said: "We have no reason to believe that either murder was carried out on behalf of a paramilitary organisation."

Ahead of its next full report next month, the IMC said: "Paramilitaries must stop putting their own interests . . . above those for whom they deceitfully claim to speak."

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