Executive ‘fudge’ as UDA violence continues

Supporters of a disaffected UDA gang are believed to have been behind a spate of attacks in Carrickfergus at the weekend including one on the home of a single parent mother of two.

The south-east Antrim ‘brigade’ of the UDA have been urged to condemn the violence, which follows recent feuding between the gang and the mainstream UDA, largely based in Belfast.

Kerri Haggans - a mother-of-two - said her 13-year-old daughter has been left traumatised after six masked men entered her home in the Castlemara estate at around midnight on Sunday.

Two of the men pushed their way into the bedroom she shares with her 10-month-old son while four others set about ransacking her home, smashing windows and a television.

Mr Kirkham who acts as a spokesman for the breakaway UDA group denied yesterday that their members were behind the attacks.

“It’s the first I’ve heard of it and if this had involved members of our group I would be aware of it before now,” he said.

Earlier this month, the North’s SDLP minister Margaret Ritchie threatened to stop providing ‘peace funds’ to paramilitary murder gangs if it did not begin the process of decommissioning.

Alliance leader David Ford has attacked the move, arguing that the Belfast Executive had ducked the awkward decision on funding for the unionist paramilitary UDA and UVF.

Ms Ritchie has been criticised by some parties for failing to consult other ministers before the announcement of her funding decision, while the Alliance has described the move as a collective fudge.

“It illustrates a certain malaise about the way the executive is working,” he said. “This is an issue where an awkward decision was being ducked.”

Ms Ritchie, of the SDLP, however has claimed that a paper was circulated about the matter to colleagues before the summer recess.

Sinn Féin regional development minister Conor Murphy challenged Ms Ritchie about the sequence of events.

“Margaret Ritchie claimed that she had written to ministerial colleagues seeking to have a discussion on this funding package,” he said.

“What actually happened was that Margaret Ritchie first announced in the media that she intended to remove the funding.

“This was done without any executive discussion.

“Presumably after receiving legal opinion, she then attempted to bring a proposal to the executive to continue to pay for the funding and seek cover from her ministerial colleagues for what would have amounted to a u-turn.

“This is not the function of an executive and the minister was told this.”

The Belfast Executive committee is a four-party coalition where ministers have individual responsibility but collective responsibility is also important. Any three members of the executive can press for a vote on a specific issue to require cross-community support.

* A County Derry Sinn Féin councillor has received UDA death threats.

Billy Leonard, from Coleraine, said he and his family had taken threatening phone calls claiming a bomb had been left under his car.

“He has said that I would be dead in 24 hours; when other members of my family answered the phone he has said the Councillor Billy Leonard would be dead,” he said.

The politician is the second nationalist public representative to be targeted in recent days.

SDLP representative John Dallat was warned of danger from unionist paramilitaries last week.

We have a favour to ask

We want to keep our publication as available as we can, so we need to ask for your help. Irish Republican News takes time, money and hard work to produce. But we do it because we believe it makes a difference. If everyone who reads our website helps fund it, our future would be much more secure.

For as little as £1, you can support Irish Republican News – and it only takes a minute. Thank you.

© 2007 Irish Republican News