UDA set for cash bonanza
UDA set for cash bonanza

The unionist paramilitary UDA is set to get a multi-million-pound payoff by the British government to end its activities.

The UDA wants some 70 million pounds as a ‘support package to retrain former paramilitaries’. The group has a long history of collusion with British Crown forces, particularly in Belfast, where British agent Brian Nelson directed assassinations.

London confirmed yesterday that Tony Blair’s chief of staff, Jonathan Powell, was meeting UDA representatives, but said the cost of any package had not been agreed.

A decision in November by the British Direct Ruler Paul Murphy to restore official British recognition of the UDA ceasefire was widely derided, although the number and scale of UDA attacks have diminished in recent weeks.

The possibility of a deal for the paramilitary group drew strong criticism from both the Ulster Unionists and the nationalist SDLP.

There has also been speculation that Johnny ‘Mad Dog’ Adair, who was recently released from prison and flown to England, has been at the receiving end of a secret multi-million cash bonanza.

Adair, formerly of the UDA’s west Belfast brigade and recently linked to the breakaway LVF group in Down and Armagh, is understood to be moving to the south of Spain.

The UUP’s South Antrim MP, David Burnside, asked whether taxpayers’ money could end up funding the lifestyles of loyalist gangsters. “Buying new four-wheel-drives and financing new BMW fleets? Gold medallions and identity bracelets for the leadership? The world’s turned upside down,” he said.

But the Ulster Political Research Group, which has links with the UDA, said any money would go to loyalist communities left behind during the North’s transition to peace.

“We’re trying to play catch-up with the republican community,” insisted spokesman Tommy Kirkham.

  • The UDA has targeted a Protestant pastor in a petrol bomb attack. Reverend Ruth Petticrew’s car was set alight outside her east Belfast home earlier this week after she had received UDA death threats.

    Rev Petticrew has been a friend to the family of Alan McCullough, the victim of a feud with the UDA.

    “I was targeted because I give pastoral support to the McCullough family. I feel pretty sad and sick that these men feel that’s what they need to do - that they need to attack a Christian worker going about pastoral care of people in this community,” she said.

    Mr McCullough’s brother Kenny laid the blame at the door of the lower Shankill UDA and called on secretary of state Paul Murphy to declare the UDA ‘ceasefire’ over.

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