Loyalist attacks go unchecked in Antrim

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Loyalists paramilitary organisations have been involved in brutal attacks in County Antrim amid violent wrangling over local control and the proceeds of crime.

In Ballymoney, the UDA (‘Ulster Defence Association’) were responsible for shooting an 18-year-old youth in both arms and legs. The attack took place at his home last weekend.

SDLP East Derry representative John Dallat said he believed the shooting is the “handiwork of the UDA who are operating in open defiance of law and order”.

“I am also convinced this is the same gang that murdered Brian McIlhagga more than three years ago in the same town and they will go on acting as judge and jury against anyone who they don’t like,” he said.

“Anyone who doesn’t show due reverence to them is fair game,” he added.

McIlhagga, a father-of-five and small time drugs dealer, died after he was shot in the leg in a similar shooting. An investigation by the PSNI police failed to lead to prosecution.

Sinn Fein’s Philip McGuigan said the most recent attack “was quite clearly carried out by loyalist paramilitaries”.

“In fact this is just the latest of many attacks, resulting in death and serious injuries, close to Ballymoney, carried out by loyalists.

“There needs to be firm action by the PSNI to halt these attacks and bring those responsible to justice.”

Meanwhile, there are concerns that the UVF (‘Ulster Volunteer Force’) has has reorganised in east Antrim. It was blamed for an even more brutal attack on a local man at his home earlier this month.

The victim, who is in his 20s, was beaten with sledgehammers in the Woodvale area of Larne, suffering serious injuries to his arms and legs. Items were also taken from the home, it is understood.

A woman, who lives nearby and did not want to be named, said she heard the man’s screams.

“He said help and he was screaming in pain,” she said. “It’s scary, isn’t it? I’ve got a son and thankfully he slept through it, could you imagine if he’d heard that. The way you have to look at it too, that’s somebody’s son.”

Mr McMullan said he believed that the UVF was responsible and said the loyalist group has been reorganising and retraining in east Antrim in recent months, with its leadership based in the Monkstown area of Newtownabbey.

He also warned that the organisation in Larne is involved in the supply of illegal drink and cigarettes and runs illegal drinking dens.

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