UVF under pressure after victim’s daughter speaks out

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The PSNI has been stung into action against the unionist paramilitary UVF following a public demonstration led by the daughter of UVF murder victim Ian Ogle.

After decades of the UVF’s drug-dealing activities being ignored by the PSNI, seven people have been charged in a series of raids this week. The PSNI said it had questioned more than a dozen in connection with the possession and supply of cocaine and other Class A drugs.

The East Belfast UVF has come under pressure following a public demonstration of 150 women led by Toni Johnston earlier this month.

She made an emotional plea for action after marching in solidarity from the spot where her father was brutally murdered on Cluan Place. Ms Johnston witnessed the aftermath of the horrific killing of Mr Ogle, a community worker and who was killed following a long vendetta with the UVF.

“Please do not let my daddy die in vain,” she said.

“We as a community are saying: No more violence on our streets. No more intimidation, no more drug dealing, no more so-called punishment beatings, no more bullying and no more destroying our community - we have had enough.”

The killing was the 30th by the UVF since they declared a ‘ceasefire’ in 1994. In April 2018, the organisation pledged itself to ‘non-violence’ amid a controversy over council funding awarded to groups linked to the UVF.

One men has been charged in relation to the fatal stabbing of the father-of-two, which happened on January 27.

The PSNI said they had carried out more than 20 searches in Belfast, Newtownards and Comber in a “significant operation”. A spokesperson said £15,000 of suspected cocaine had been seized, along with a number of high-value vehicles, and expensive clothing and jewellery.

However, those arrested are believed to be low-level member of the organisation, and the UVF leadership remains intact. Those charged are due to appear at Belfast Magistrates Court on April 18.

Speaking at the rally earlier this month, Ms Johnston made an impassioned plea for an end to UVF terror.

“My daddy, only 45 years of age still with so much to live for, murdered,” she said.

“Stabbed 11 times in the back and left for dead on his own street. Lay dying in his own son’s arms and why: because of an apparent dirty look.”

She said a number of people had confided in her about threats against their own families, but that she was overwhelmed by the outpouring of support for her own.

“But nothing is going to take away the fear my family is feeling,” she added. “We are scared to walk the streets and I don’t know when or if that will go away.”

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