Loyalist violence ignored as gangs issue Brexit warning

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Loyalist paramilitaries “have the run of the town” in County Antrim, according to the owner of a repair business in Carrickfergus whose cars have repeatedly been torched.

The South East Antrim UDA is behind the campaign of intimidation which saw twelve cars burned out in the space of a few weeks, with six being destroyed on Monday night.

“They say it’s not them, but everybody knows it is them: the South East Antrim UDA,” Mr Dunlop told UTV television news. He says they are trying to force him out of the town.

While he is determined to stay with his family, he says the financial impact will take its toll. “Eventually they will end up putting me out of here,” he said.

Internal loyalist tensions, which were at the root of the Carrickfergus incident, are also thought have been involved in a gun attack in the Waterside area of Derry. On Monday, a masked men took aim and fired at a van being driven by a local community worker in the Waterside. The targeted man works for a restorative justice group with links to the UDA.

Sinn Fein’s Michelle O’Neill called on unionist politicians to do more to speak out against loyalist paramilitaries.

“This is the latest in a line of attacks which has been linked to loyalist paramilitaries and the default position from most unionist politicians seems to be to remain silent,” she said.

“That is wrong. It is unacceptable. These organisations are a scourge on many communities. The violence, intimidation, extortion and drug dealing they are involved in needs to be confronted and condemned at every turn.”

The attacks come as an umbrella group of loyalist paramilitaries warned the British government that they “strongly oppose” the current Brexit deal negotiated with the EU, particularly the backstop condition that there be no remilitarisation of the border through Ireland.

David Campbell - current chairman of the so-called ‘Loyalist Communities Council’, which represents the murder gangs of the UDA and UVF - said they met Britain’s permanent secretary in the North last Thursday to issue the statement.

As to whether there was any sense of threat from the paramilitaries, Mr Campbell said: “Oh, no, no, not at all. Quite the opposite. The organisations reinforced their commitment to the peace process. This is very much political opposition.”

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