UVF threats multiply
UVF threats multiply

PUP leader Dawn Purvis has resigned after a campaign of intimidation by the unionist paramilitary UVF has seen it issue death threats against its critics and a message of terror against the people of the Shankill Road.

The North’s political establishment is in confusion following the UVF’s calculated killing of Bobby Moffett. A former colleague, Moffett was shot in the face and chest by two masked men in broad daylight on the Shankill Road last Friday.

The UVF and its representative organisations, including its political wing, the PUP (Progressive Unionist Party) had received significant support from the British government and the Stormont administration, including hefty financial injections over recent years.

Although republicans have always remained sceptical of the group’s professed ceasefire, the UVF’s peace claims were bolstered by high-profile official declarations earlier this year that the group had decommissioned all of the weapons under its control.

A number of vigils have been held by the family and members of the local community in protest at the killing. However, many people have been intimidated by the UVF into now showing their support.

One text message sent to local residents read: “Anyone seen to be giving support to the Bobby protests will be put off the Shankill Road. We (U.V.F) will not stand by and watch these protests carry on for much longer ... U.V.F”.

Photographs of Moffett as he lay dying with severe head wounds are also being distributed as a warning.

He is understood to have been a former loyalist paramilitary who fell out with UVF leaders after his young nephew was beaten and ordered out of the North.

On Wednesday, Purvis called for an end to the ongoing intimidation in the area. The east Belfast Assembly member, who took over from David Ervine on his death three years ago, was forced to resign by Friday morning. She had predicted there would be “serious consequences” if it was shown the UVF was involved.

Tracey Coulter, whose father was murdered by the UVF, said the atmosphere on the Shankill is “absolutely terrible”.

“The UVF instead of hanging their heads in shame, they are intimidating people who are standing paying respect or laying flowers to the brutal slaying of Bobby,” she said.

“To live on the Shankill at the moment is disgusting. You can’t walk up the Shankill with looking around you to see if you are going to be taunted or if abuse is going to be shouted at you.

“Basically the UVF have ripped the community apart. They have ripped the heart of the Shankill to pieces.

“But sure the UVF is on ceasefire! It’s a joke!”

The Shankill woman received a death threat from the UVF herself after she criticised the intimidation on UTV television.

Amid the increasingly tense atmosphere, another vigil was held tonight, on the eve of Bobby Moffett’s funeral.

Mr Moffett’s elderly mother, 79-year-old Susan Moffett, said she wants no retaliation for her son’s killing.

But when asked if the UVF ceasefire was over, she answered: “Yes.”

Branding those who murdered her son “scum”, she said: “They’re out for all the money they can get”.

So far, there has been silence from the British government, PSNI and most of the North’s political parties about the killing, but pressure is mounting for a response.

Victims campaigner Raymond McCord has called for action to he taken against the UVF leadership. He said he also received a notice on Saturday that the UVF were targeting him.

“Nobody else had problems with Bobby Moffett except for the UVF,” he said.

“People are well aware that Bobby Moffett’s crime to the UVF was attempting to defend his family.”

McCord’s campaign for justice after his son was murdered by the UVF in similar circumstances revealed high-level collusion between the UVF and British force.

Last week’s murder has reinforced concerns that the UVF leaders who ordered the killing are one of the North’s so-called ‘protected species’.

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