It has now been confirmed that UDA leader Jackie McDonald was one of over 100 unionists who laid siege to homes in the Peggy’s Loaning area of Banbridge for several hours on Tuesday, August 11.
In circumstances that were chillingly reminiscent of those that led to the murder of catholic man Kevin McDaid near his family home in Coleraine by a UDA lynch mob in May, the UDA-led gang in Banbridge claimed that they were “reacting” to the erection of two Irish national flags in the area.
The Edenderry Park/Peggy’s Loaning area is home to many nationalist families within the predominantly unionist County Down town and the experience of having over 100 UDA thugs, many of whom wore scarves and hoods to conceal their identities, proved to be both terrifying and very intimidating - which of, course, was the intention of the sectarian gang.
Two DUP councillors, Junior McCrum and James McElroy, also arrived in the area, demanding that the PSNI remove the national flags.
Rather than immediately disperse the unionist crowd, which remained in the area for a number of hours, the PSNI, who were present throughout, eventually backed down to the joint DUP-UDA demands and later removed the two flags.
Attempting to justify the actions, the PSNI area commander for Banbridge, Ken Mawhinney, brazenly told a local newspaper, “The display of flags to promote sectarianism or intimidation is wholly unacceptable... and it has been determined that [if] the display of a flag is such to justify enforcement, police, who do not have the luxury of doing nothing, can act unilaterally.”
Mawhinney, who clearly shares the same blinkered view as the vast majority of his colleagues in Britain’s police force in the Six Counties, sees no problem with the innumerable amount of unionist paramilitary and other pro-British flags erected in Banbridge and in other towns, villages and rural areas right across the North - flags which are deliberately erected with the dual purpose of promoting sectarianism and intimidating nationalists.
More sinisterly and, perhaps, totally unsurprising, given the direct involvement of the UDA in last week’s attempt at mass intimidation of the local community, when a number of youths re-erected the national flag two days later, quite a number of residents reported hearing several shots being fired in the area.
Many residents are firmly of the view that unionist paramilitaries were responsible for the gun-fire in what was a clear message of ‘Croppies, lie down or else’.
Two things are becoming increasingly obvious from events in Banbridge, Coleraine, Rasharkin, Larne, Garvagh and many other parts of the Six Counties -- one is that unionist paramilitaries are intent on continuing and expanding their sectarian campaign of intimidation.
This campaign is being led by people like Jackie McDonald, who are consistently being feted as peacemakers by those who should know better.
The second is that, just like 40-years-ago, the North’s police force is playing the role of a sectarian militia, intent on upholding the politics of supremacy.
Despite what its political apologists might claim, the incontrovertible evidence on the ground demonstrates that the PSNI is certainly not on the side of those at the receiving end of unionist attacks and unionist intimidation.