Members of a notorious unionist paramilitary death sqaud have been accused of carrying out a savage assault in which a young mother was held down by four men and bitten on the face.
Laura McComb believes she was attacked by the north Belfast UVF gang simply because she is from an area associated with the rival UDA.
In 2006 a scathing police ombudsman investigation into the activities of the Mount Vernon UVF confirmed that members were in the pay of the PSNI Special Branch and had been protected from prosecution.
A witness to the latest assault claimed that one officer who attended the attack on Ms McComb on Saturday said police were powerless to act - needing permission from the “men not in uniform” before they could make arrests in Mount Vernon.
The same gang has also been accused of protecting the killers of 15-year-old Thomas Devlin who was stabbed to death in August 2005. The killer of the young Catholic boy, believed to be from the staunchly loyalist estate, has so far evaded justice.
In a week in which DUP leader Peter Robinson reported meeting with the leaderships of both the UVF and UDA, Ms McComb has provided a gruesome description of the assault. She describes how she was bitten in the face, jumped on and dragged across the road by a drunken mob.
“They were like wild animals. They were screaming ‘just kill the UDA bitch. Just do her in’,” she said.
“I’ve no interest in any organisation but just because I live in Tiger’s Bay they singled me out.
Meanwhile, Sinn Féin councillor Anne-Marie Logue has been warned of a loyalist death threat against her.
The Crumlin councillor said she had been contacted last week and informed of the threat.
“Although the PSNI have failed to provide any details about this threat, it is clear that those issuing them have nothing to offer our communities and will not deter Sinn Féin from pursing our objectives of Irish Unity,” Cllr Logue said in response to the threat.
Sinn Féin’s Paul Butler has meanwhile called on the Parades Commission to ban loyalist parades in Stoneyford village after the “blatantly sectarian” actions of loyalists who flouted the Parades Commission ruling on a controversial parade in the village on Tuesday night.
Prominent loyalist Mark Harbison and other bandsmen were observed to march over fields to get as close as possible to houses in Stonebridge Meadows.
The Commission had ruled that the parade was not allowed to enter the housing developments of The Beeches and Stonebridge Meadows -- both scenes of loyalist intimidation of Catholics in recent years, after which a number of Catholic families fled the village.
The loyalist parade route was laid out in the Parades Commission determination, and that no music was allowed to be played.
However, Harbison and band members entered the field between the two housing developments and proceeded to march around the Stonebridge Meadows development-- a site of sectarian attacks on Catholic homes over the last number of years, including a near-fatal arson attack.
“The actions of this loyalist band are purely sectarian and designed to intimidate the Catholics of Stoneyford,” said Butler.
“The Parades Commission should now ban future parades by this band in the village.”
He said residents of Stonebridge Meadows “felt very threatened and intimidated by the behaviour of these bandsmen”.