A former loyalist politician has described how he and his family have been targeted over the past 18 months in a unionist paramilitary campaign of intimidation.
David Adams, who was a councillor for the now defunct UDA-linked Ulster Democratic Party, said he was being attacked by the UDA because of his support for the peace process.
The most alarming incidents included the placing of a pig’s head on the passenger seat of his car, the beating to death of the family’s pet dog and the daubing of graffiti outside his mother’s house.
Describing the attentions of the UDA on him and his family as “constant harassment”, Mr Adams said: “Over the years since the Good Friday Agreement – and my decision, as a loyalist politician, to buy heart and soul into the ceasefire and everything that went with that – we had become accustomed, if not immune, to their mindless threats and vulgar abuse.”
“But, 18 months ago, they began backing up the threats with actual violence,” he said.
Mr Adams has written analysis pieces for a number of newspapers in Ireland and Britain. He revealed that members of Ian Paisley’s DUP have played a continuing role in the intimidation, which intensified after he joined his local District Policing Partnership.
Meanwhile, unionist paramilitaries have been blamed for a a violent attack on a family in Ballymoney, County Antrim.
Two masked men followed the eldest son, who is 22, into the house. They assaulted him with weapons thought to be pieces of wood or iron bars. They then attacked his mother and 20 year-old brother.
And two rival unionist paramilitary organisations in Derry, the UDA and UVF, are set to force two men from the area amid a continuing dispute linked to tensions within the organisation.
A list threatening five people and warning them to leave was drafted by the UDA two weeks ago.
The UDA in and around the city is said to be growing at the expense of the UVF, with reports that a unit of the breakaway LVF in the city has also been set up recently.
FUTURE OF LOYALISM?
Also this weekend, David Ervine, the leader of the UVF-linked Progressive Unionist Party, has called on loyalists to be ready to respond to a move by the IRA to disarm and end its activity.
Mr Ervine told his party’s annual conference in Belfast on Saturday that the IRA was preparing to make a major, historic gesture and he believed the North’s executive and Assembly would be back in operation by February.
Mr Ervine said “the IRA are going to make spectacular moves that the loyalists I know will naturally follow.
“I can’t advocate that. What I can say to you is that it is my honest and humble belief that loyalism is much more capable of positivity than anybody believes,” he said.
Mr Ervine said it was “absolutely unreasonable that loyalism is constantly pushed into a corner and branded with a simplistic and unreasonable name, criminality”.