02 February 2006

Ulster Defence Association formally accused of gunning down former Belfast brigadier Jim Gray

Daily Ireland


The Ulster Defence Association was formally accused yesterday 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 British and Irish governments by the four-member Independent Monitoring Commission.
UDA leaders signalled last November that they wanted to engage with the British government in talks about their organisation’s future.
However, the commission accused the UDA 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 the commission was 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 had 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 the PSNI and British army with gunfire.
The commission 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 and 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.”
In the commission’s view, the UVF and Red Hand Commando remained active, violent and ruthless, despite the ending of a feud with the rival Loyalist Volunteer Force in August.
The commission said UVF members had carried out shootings and assaults and also sectarian attacks between September and late November.
The organisation was involved in rioting on Belfast’s Shankill Road over the arrest of one of its commanders, said the report.
The commission 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.
The commission said it hoped the UVF would end attacks on nationalists and ethnic minorities. The commission urged the Progressive Unionist Party to take the lead in achieving that goal.
The commission noted that the Loyalist Volunteer Force had declared in October that it would stand down its military units. The IMC said there was no evidence of this occurring as yet.
The LVF ended a feud with the UVF in August but, during the period under review, it remained heavily involved in organised crime, including drugs.

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