01 February 2006

UDA accused of killing ex-brigadier Gray


01/02/2006 - 11:52:50

The Ulster Defence Association was formally accused today of gunning down one of its former brigadiers, Jim Gray.

The accusation against the North's largest loyalist paramilitary group was made in the latest report to the Irish and British governments by the four-member Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC).

And while UDA leaders signalled last November that they wanted to engage with the British government in talks about their organisation’s future, the IMC accused them of involvement in murder, trying to procure weapons, drug dealing, extortion, money laundering, producing and selling counterfeit goods and robbery.

The commission said: “The picture on the UDA over the three months under review is essentially the same. Members from east Belfast were, in our view, responsible for the murder on October 4 of their fellow member Jim Gray, who was on bail following his arrest.

“Members also undertook a sectarian attack in early September.

“The UDA and its members have continued to undertake targeting, shootings and assaults – some unreported.”

The report said it was also unaware of any change in the broad pattern of UDA involvement in organised crime.

The commission alleged that the UDA and the Ulster Volunteer Force orchestrated disturbances after restrictions were imposed on an Orange Order parade in the Whiterock area of west Belfast in September.

Senior members of both organisations were accused of orchestrating violence during the parade, hijacking vehicles and attacking police and Army with gunfire.

The IMC acknowledged that there did appear to be some individuals in the UDA who were trying to steer the group away from violence and organised crime into community development.

“We applaud constructive community work and activities such as the removal of flags and murals,” the commission said.

“Another important step would be for loyalist paramilitaries, including the UDA, to stop targeting nationalists and members of ethnic minorities.

“We hope the Ulster Political Research Group (which provides political analysis to the UDA) will give a clear and robust lead on this.”

The Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) and Red Hand Commando remained, in the IMC’s view, active, violent and ruthless, despite the ending of its feud with the rival Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) in August.

The commission said UVF members carried out between September and late November shootings and assaults and also sectarian attacks.

As well as taking part in disturbances over the Whiterock parade, the organisation was involved in rioting on Belfast’s Shankill Road over the arrest of one of its commanders.

The IMC said the UVF had tried to acquire weapons and while it remained involved in organised crime, the leadership was making efforts to reduce criminality, especially drug dealing, within its ranks.

“We welcome this and will watch with interest to see what happens,” the commission said.

Like the UDA, the commission hoped the organisation would end attacks on nationalists and ethnic minorities and urged the Progressive Unionist Party to take the lead on achieving that goal.

The IMC noted the Loyalist Volunteer Force declared in October it would stand down its military units.

But the commission said there was no evidence of this occurring as yet.

During the period under review, the LVF, which ended a bloody feud with the UVF in August, remained heavily involved in organised crime, including drugs.

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