Hardline statement by UDA group
Hardline statement by UDA group


Leaders of a breakaway UDA faction in north Antrim have warned that their violence is likely to escalate further.

In the last 18 months the group has been responsible for six ‘punishment’ shootings, one of which resulted in a man losing his leg, as well as the murder of 42-year-old Brian McIlhagga in Ballymoney in January.

The upsurge in violence came after the organisation’s long-standing leader in north Antrim, Billy ‘The Mexican’ McFarland, was removed in 2013. A spokesman for the paramilitary group said this week that there had been “a gradual deterioration in the mood and loyalists are angry, especially young loyalists”.

The hardline UDA group said it had never declared a ceasefire and it would continue to exist as long as loyalists felt “marginalised”.

“We have always been outside of the peace process,” the spokesman said.

Last month, Independent Moyle councillor Padraig McShane accused British forces of “running” members of the gang. The former Sinn Fein councillor was the first to draw attention to the unchecked series of 40 attacks, including shootings, arson and pipe bombings, in the last two years.

“The type, level and concentration of attacks coupled with the fact that a small number of arrests are not turning into criminal charges and convictions follows a similar pattern when collusion was at its height,” he said.

“Rank and file PSNI members are openly communicating that they are not allowed to intervene with UDA individuals who enjoy immunity on criminal acts.”

Mr McShane’s home was badly damaged in a firebomb attack last October, which he has blamed on the UDA. Last summer the message ‘Padraig McShane - dead man’ was also painted on a white sheet and placed on a loyalist bonfire in Dervock, County Antrim.

East Derry SDLP assembly member John Dallat said he had raised the loyalist threat with the Dublin government. He said the gang involved was desperate to reassert their influence in an area running from Dervock in County Antrim to Derry city.

“There is deep concern that it is only a matter of time before they turn their attention to the Catholic community that they murdered in the past,” he said.

“If they would inflict this kind of violence and horrendous injuries on their own community what else are they capable of?”

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