UDA brigade rejects peace process
UDA brigade rejects peace process

The UDA in north Antrim and Derry have further cranked up tensions in the area by announcing their withdrawal of support for the police and political institutions.

In a confusing statement the local Ulster Political Research Group -- which represents the UDA brigade politically -- blamed the response to the Kevin McDaid murder in Coleraine, a “green agenda” and the demonisation of loyalists for the move.

The lengthy statement bizarrely blamed the murdered Catholic community worker, his family and friends for tensions in the Coleraine area.

However, fears of a breakaway by the hardline brigade, which is headed by ‘brigadier’ Billy McFarland, were being played down by other loyalists.

Mr McDaid died when a mob of between forty and fifty loyalists descended on the predominately nationalist Heights area and beat him to death.

It is understood that UDA death threats issued to the family and witnesses of the murdered father of four remain in place.

However, the UDA spokesmen claimed in their statement that “republican thugs” in the Heights area had previously intimidated Protestants.

While it said that Mr McDaid “did not deserve to die” it claimed that “the witch hunt conducted by Sinn Féin and PSNI against loyalism and the Heights community” has added to already high tensions.

“We accuse the PSNI of utilising a form of legal internment against men from Coleraine who have been accused of a heinous crime when actually they have not established the cause of death for Kevin McDaid”

The statement also claimed that republicans got funding while loyalists received none, and said loyalist communities felt let down by unionists who had sold out their ethics and roots to the middle classes.

Sinn Féin councillor Billy Leonard said that given the looming Twelfth weekend nationalists in the Coleraine area were fearful.

Provocatively, an unrestricted Orange Order parade is to pass close to the scene of the McDaid murder this weekend.

And earlier this week, a teenage boy was attacked and beaten in Coleraine by a gang who asked if he was a “Fenian”.

Mr Leonard said the attack was the latest in a long litany of sectarian assaults in Coleraine.

“Just last week I was approached by a woman who told me she was coming back from getting her morning paper when she got the ‘Fenian B’ treatment,” he said.

Mr Leonard said that the UDA statement would only increase tensions.

“I always said that Coleraine loyalists would be the last to come on board and this statement has shown that to be a case.

“It signifies just how out of touch they are and to try and portray themselves as victims following the murder of Kevin McDaid is incredulous.”

Mr Leonard said the Parades Commission should also have placed restrictions on the ‘Twelfth’ march in Coleraine.

“People just can’t believe that within weeks of Kevin McDaid’s murder there will be a parade along Somerset Drive,” he said.

“It was hoped that enough compassion and respect to allow the McDaid family space would be given.

“However, the Parades Commission has ignored that and has neither put conditions on the parade in the morning nor on a returning parade along Killowen Street in the evening.

“The prospect of spectators and followers within yards of the murder scene is worrying.

“The residents have been very responsible about all the parades since Kevin’s murder but now feel that their case has been ignored and the simple compromise of avoiding Somerset Drive was not made.”

Sinn Féin’s Derry-based representative Martina Anderson branded the statement as ‘a pathetic whinge on behalf of a discredited criminal gang’.

“It has been well known for sometime that there are ongoing tensions within the UDA,” she said.

“This statement certainly confirms that. However the vast majority of people, myself included, were completely unaware that the UDA, who are engaged in drug dealing as well as racist and sectarian attacks, were ever supporters of either the PSNI or the political institutions. In that context their rather grand announcement of a withdrawal of support will have little real impact.

“In many ways this statement represents a significant challenge for unionist political leaders. This criminal gang is very clear that it has no intention of going anywhere. Their defence of the murder of Kevin McDaid is telling.”

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