The PSNI stood and watched last week as a mob of 50 masked loyalists attacked murals and plaques belonging to a rival outfit in the ongoing feud among unionist paramilitary gangs in north Down.
It is the latest in a series of illegal gathering of unionist paramilitaries that the PSNI have either ignored or assisted.
It follows weeks of feuding as a South East Antrim UDA faction, now known as the Real UFF, were pushed out of their strongholds by the rival North Down UDA, using bomb and arson attacks on homes and vehicles.
The dispute is a turf war over the proceeds of crime, with the North Down UDA enjoying the support of the PSNI, who have failed to arrest a single member of the gang, over the South East Antrim UDA.
The mob of rampaging loyalists told residents in the Weaver’s Grange estate of Newtownards they were from the “mainstream” UDA and proceeded to terrorise the neighbourhood as PSNI units looked on. However, the PSNI later claimed there had been “no disorder”.
The North Down UDA gang forced out more than 30 rivals from the town of Newtownards alone. Some of those who have fled have declared themselves homeless, but others are said to be planning a return to the area. Others have approached mainstream UDA figures in a bid to make a deal to include a “safe exit” from the area.
The ‘Real UFF’ have also been opposed by loyalist political figure Jim Allister and blogger Jamie Bryson, who has claimed to have received a death threat from members of the gang.
Mr Bryson said those behind the threat were “cowards and gangsters”, adding: “They won’t be bullying me or any genuine loyalist.”
“Mainstream loyalism has, and will continue to, peacefully oppose these thugs who are a cancer on the community,” he said. “If they think mainstream loyalism will be intimidated by these lowlifes, they have another thing coming.”
In a tweet on Monday evening, TUV leader Jim Allister, condemned the controversial practice of supplying public funding to the loyalist gangs.
He said: “Continuing threats and posturing by gangsters of proclaimed Real UFF must be faced down by PSNI.
“Paramilitaries pandered to for years under phoney ‘transition aegis’ think they are untouchable. Are they?”. He said was a question the PSNI and British government “must answer”.