A gang of UDA unionist paramilitaries were arrested as they were allegedly about to carry out a kidnapping and armed robbery this week.
It is only two weeks since the British government moved to officially recognise the UDA’s professed “ceasefire” after the organisation indicated it would move away from criminality to a more community-based role.
However, it appears that UDA has actually increased its activities, including sectarian and racist attacks, following the announcement.
Five UDA men appeared in court today charged with trying to kidnap and rob a bank official. Three of the men have also been charged with having a gun.
UDA leader Ahab Shoukri and other leading paramilitary figures joined dozens of noisy supporters who repeatedly interrupted the court hearing.
The magistrate threatened to clear the public gallery because of noise. The mob later threatened reporters and photographers outside the court.
The UDA has said it is doing “all it can” to end criminality within its ranks, and its political allies have attacked what they called ‘Doubting Thomases’ in the political and media worlds.
Last week, Sammy Duddy of the Ulster Politial Research Group, which offers analysis to the UDA, said in a letter: “The UDA, in conjunction with the UPRG, are determined, sincere and single-minded in their request for peace.”
EMPEY GETS IT WRONG
Empey said he believed republicans were behind a paint bomb attack on cars and loyalist murals in the east of the city on Sunday night.
However, yesterday afternoon a police spokeswoman ruled out a sectarian motive for the attack and revealed that UVF slogans had also been daubed on cars during the same attack.
Sinn Féin councillor Joe O’Donnell criticised the unionist representative’s comments.
“This kind of statement could easily lead to an attack on the nationalist community.”