Concern over ‘renegade’ UDA faction
Concern over ‘renegade’ UDA faction

An East Derry politician has sent an “urgent message” to the 26-County ‘Department of Foreign Affairs’ seeking an immediate meeting following an apparent split within the unionist paramilitary UDA.

The SDLP’s John Dallat has expressed concerns after the County Derry and north Antrim faction of the unionist paramilitary organisation appeared split from the Belfast-based ‘inner council’.

The reported split, which was since been denied by some UDA figures, came days after the north Antrim branch of the UDA-aligned Ulster Political Research Group (UPRG) issued a statement saying it no longer recognised the authority of the PSNI police.

Mr Dallat has also contacted the British government and accused the authorities of “pussyfooting” with the UDA.

Last week, the local UDA, under the leadership of a renegade ‘brigadier’, held a sinister march around Derry’s predominately unionist Waterside area. The silent march appeared to be a territorial ‘show of strength’.

Some 150 paramilitaries and supporters gathered on Thursday night of last week in what they claimed was a protest about unionist leadership.

In a statement, UDA representatives described the event as a “dignified protest march through supportive loyalist communities”.

“We will not confirm or deny that future peaceful protests may occur at different locations throughout the region to show solidarity with the loyalist community in the coming weeks and months,” the UDA said.

Sinn Fein assembly member Martina Anderson said she was concerned the group was attempting to heighten sectarian tensions in the area.

She also pointed to a UDA magazine which was distributed in mixed areas of the Waterside this week.

“This is a magazine which is produced to promote the UDA in Derry and North Antrim and it gives a worrying insight into the mindset of that organisation.

“As well as the racist and sectarian rants that we have unfortunately come to expect from the UDA - including what can only be described as a party political broadcast for the [fascist British National Party] - it also makes a number of implied threats against named individuals.

“It contains a sickening defence of the murder of Kevin McDaid in Coleraine and makes a number of wild and unsubstantiated allegations against the McDaid family and the wider Catholic Community in Coleraine.

“Of great concern to me is the fact that it also printed a photograph of Kevin McDaid’s son with an arrow identifying him. That is clearly sinister and should be investigated by the police.”

Ms Anderson said the magazine appeared to confirm reports of tensions within the UDA over the decommissioning issue.

“It also glorifies the intimidation which forced Romanian families out of South Belfast as well as launching into a vitriolic attack on south Belfast MLA Anna Lo. And while I will not repeat the vile statements contained in this publication, the fact that Anna has already been told of a death threat against her, I believe they represent a clear incitement and should be treated seriously.

“The magazine even laments the fact that former Beirut hostage, Brian Keenan was not murdered by his captors. Again, the language used is too offensive for me to repeat.”

Mr Keenan recently spoke at a Sinn Fein-organised event in New York.

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