The unionist paramilitary UDA put on a so-called ‘show of strength’ in a community centre owned and operated by Belfast City Council last weekend.
Men wearing balaclavas and masks took part in the paramilitary display at Sandy Row Community Centre on Saturday night.
The council said that it “regrets” that an incident that “appears to endorse a paramilitary organisation” took place in one of its community centres.
The images were posted on the Facebook page of high-profile loyalist David Craig. He was jailed for 14 months in 2012 and banned from all British football grounds for three years after he mocked up pictures of Glasgow soccer manager Neil Lennon, a Catholic, and put the words “dead man walking” on the front of his body.
Some of those who were at the centre on Saturday evening are reported to have claimed it was a “band night” and had denied it was staged to promote the UDA.
Meanwhile, a unionist councillor has refused to apologise after branding Sinn Fein council colleagues in County Derry “scum” on a UDA-linked website.
Anne Forde made the remarks on a website managed by the Ulster Political Research Group which gives political advice to the UDA. The DUP councillor was taking part in an online discussion about recent efforts to have a plaque commemorating two Sinn Fein councillors shot dead by loyalists removed from the headquarters of Magherafelt District Council.
Incredibly, she was the second unionist politician to describe a senior Sinn Fein figure as “scum” this week. Prospective UUP Council candidate, Victor Warrington, who is standing council elections in May, went onto the Facebook website to call Sinn Fein’s Gerry Kelly “scum” and a “tramp”.
The Fermanagh man had been enraged by news that Mr Kelly was taking legal action against the PSNI over an incident (which he later dropped) where he was carried on the bonnet of a PSNI Land Rover.
Both Warrington and Forde defended their use of the language and said they would not apologise for their comments.
Meanwhile, loyalists have been blamed for mailing a bullet to a primary school in County Derry. The letter containing the bullet arrived at Tobermore Primary School on Tuesday.
It is understood the bullet was sent as a warning over an elder sibling of a child at the school. This elder sibling is believed to attend a Catholic school in the Mid-Ulster area, and may have been spotted wearing his (Catholic) school uniform outside the mainly Protestant Tobermore primary.
Sinn Fein education Minister John O’Dowd said he “condemned utterly any attempt to intimidate or bully schoolchildren”. The PSNI said they were treating the incident as a hate crime.