A nationalist councillor was forced to open fire to defend his home from UDA paramilitaries -- less than an hour after the group’s ‘ceasefire’ was officially recognised by the British government.
The 39-year-old fired four shots into the air when he was confronted by two men after a gang vandalised his mother’s car in the early hours of Monday morning.
One of the men appeared to be armed with a pipe-bomb.
It is only the second time in the history of the conflict that an elected representative has fired a legally-held weapon in self-defence.
Mr O’Connor’s mother, Mrs Rosaleen O’Connor, said: “So much for Paul Murphy and the UDA ceasefire. It wasn’t even 45 minutes old when these scum came and attacked my home and my car.
“They have been at this for years and years. They attacked my husband and I buried him two years ago. They attacked my son, pipe-bombed him and threatened him and I buried him a year ago.
“Am I going to have to bury my other son myself?”
She later added: “Paul Murphy is a stupid eejit listening to what they have to say. There is no such thing as a UDA ceasefire and there never has been and it is time the British government wised up to that fact.”
No-one was injured during the trouble at Churchill Road, but a car belonging to Mrs O’Connor had tar poured over it.
Mr O’Connor said he believed his life was under threat. “There was one fella who looked to be in the act of throwing something.. I was really scared because I thought it might have been a pipe bomb because my late brother had been pipe-bombed.
“I fired four quick shots over the top of their heads - they ran away. I was really afraid for my life, to be honest with you.”
Mr O’Connor and his family have suffered continuous assault, intimidation and abuse from loyalist paramilitaries and their supporters since Danny first became involved in politics.
In a statement on Sunday, the UDA has said it was prepared to move away from violence but insisted it would still retain the right to “defend” loyalist communities.
The statement was read out at a Remembrance Sunday commemoration at Rathcoole in north Belfast yesterday.
Flanked by a group of masked men, Ulster Political Research Group leader Tommy Kirkham told the crowd the same statement was being read to 10,000 UDA members at similar commemorations across the north.
UDA leader Andre Shoukri is understood to have read the statement at a commemoration in Tigers Bay in north Belfast.
The UDA said it had now entered into a talks process with the British government which, it said, had the potential to achieve an end to all paramilitary activity.
“From today we are prepared to move into a process,” the statement said.
“Our commitment to that process will be to work towards a day when there is no longer a need for a UDA and a UFF.”
The UDA said its statement was designed to “assist the people of Northern Ireland to reconcile their differences and build a new Ulster”.
Families of UDA murder victims said actions, not words, would prove the credibility of the UDA’s statement.