07 January 2006

UDA unit stops demanding protection money

Daily Ireland

A decision by an Ulster Defence Association unit to stop demanding protection money from building contractors has led to renewed fears of a split within the organisation.
After meeting with local churchmen, UDA members in the loyalist Tigers Bay area of north Belfast have agreed to stop extorting money from construction firms.
The move came after builders refused to work in the deprived area, which is in the midst of a housing crisis.
Although welcomed by locals, the decision has infuriated the leadership of the north Belfast UDA, which is based in the Westland and Ballysillan areas.
Units from these estates are refusing to sign up to the non-extortion pact, prompting fears of a split with their Tiger’s Bay colleagues.
A senior loyalist source told Daily Ireland that the Westland and Ballysillan UDA were angry at the actions of the Tigers Bay unit.
The paramilitary said: “There is a lot of ill-feeling, the UDA in Ballysillan and the Westland feels Tigers Bay has gone out on a limb.
“But the Tigers Bay crowd has the support of the local community and because of this they are being allowed to go ahead, although the rivalry and anger remains.”
A spokesman for the Loyalist Commission said the non-extortion pact agreed by the Tigers Bay UDA was being mirrored in other parts of Belfast.
“There are other loyalist estates around the city where this is being copied,” he said.
“The UDA realises extortion just isn’t on any longer. Hopefully this will lead to the regeneration of Tigers Bay, one of the most socially and economically deprived areas in Northern Ireland.”
The UDA’s current north Belfast boss, Andre Shoukri, and his second-in-command, William John Boreland, are both currently behind bars facing extortion charges. Shoukri, from the Westland, and Boreland, who is from Ballysillan, have previous convictions for extortion.

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