Threats against pubs as UVF gathers strength


Loyalist paramilitaries in Larne, County Antrim have warned pub-owners not to serve Catholics.

At least five bars in the town, which is frequently visited by tourists heading to Scotland by ferry, were told not to serve Catholics.

Some of the pubs are now considering introducing buzzer-style gated entrances to protect their premises, a hallmark of some of the worst days of the conflict.

“At a time when people are attempting to promote Larne we see that unionist paramilitaries are determined to put their stamp on the town, making it an unwelcome place for many people.”

Sinn Fein’s Alex Maskey said the threat was “reminiscent of a very sinister period, whenever people were being killed in bombs and shooting attacks on bars”.

The latest warnings were “a twist” on threats which were decades old, he said.

Mr Maskey said it was a “sickening reminder” of the past when bars were targeted “because of the religion of patrons and owners”.

“Looking back, a lot of Catholic pubs were targeted,” he said.

“There was a campaign on that sector. This is just a bad reminder of that.”


Two soccer players had to be escorted by police after receiving sectarian threats while watching Saturday’s game between Linfield and Glentoran.

Liam Boyce and Conor Devlin play for Cliftonville soccer club, a north Belfast club which has most support within the nationalist community.

Boyce said that one supporter had threatened to “cut our throats” as the pair watched the Windsor Park game in loyalist southwest Belfast. Coins and other missiles were also thrown at the pair.

The pair watched the game after receiving tickets from one of the Windsor Park team’s squad.

“The irony is that a Linfield player was friendly enough to give us his tickets. Still in shock,” Boyce said.

“So you can’t go to a football game to watch a match? I expect banter not sectarianism and death threats.”


And efforts by the loyalist paramilitary UVF to reimpose itself in east Belfast have seen a giant mural of soccer legend George Best painted over with the image of a gunman.

The Best mural was painted just three years ago in Sydenham with financial aid from the European Union. The image of the local folk hero was intended to provide an alternative to the usual sectarian and paramilitary images in loyalist areas.

The new painting shows a UVF gunman, bizarrely placed alongside a quote from Martin Luther King, which states: ‘Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed’.

The UVF and its political representatives have already raised tensions considerably through the Union Jack flag disturbances last winter and riots through this summer’s marching season, and a recent arms find has shown the organisation is currently rearming.

The murals of Belfast have long been seen as a barometer of the political climate. While some have been preserved as important public art, others have been replaced as part of a government-managed ‘reimaging’ program to depict ‘normal’ cultural and historical scenes.

Many traditional loyalist murals of masked or demonic gunmen were replaced with historical images from the Harland and Wolff shipyard, the Titanic and scenes from the Battle of the Somme as well as people including George Best and author CS Lewis.

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