Loyalist terrorists behind wave of violence against their own community
A suspected drug trafficker was among three men targeted in so-called punitive attacks by various loyalist factions over a nine-day period.
he attacks, including two involving firearms, have raised concerns among police chiefs who fear an escalation of incidents of this nature on the part of the UDA and the UVF.
Dissident Republicans have been responsible for most of the knee pads and beatings over the past year.
But recent attacks in Bangor, east Belfast and Carrickfergus have brought attention back to the loyalist paramilitaries.
Detective Superintendent Zoe McKee told Sunday Life fear played a big role in hampering efforts to prosecute the gunmen.
She said: “We are actively investigating each incident to identify those involved with a view to bringing them to court, but it is evident that it is difficult to have victims and witnesses of such attacks testify due to fear. .
“We will not comment on individual cases, but we will continue to target groups and individuals whom we suspect to be responsible and to tackle their crime in the broad sense, whether it is drug trafficking, loan lending. ‘illegal money and extortion, but we have to do it with the communities. “
A man currently in court on major drug trafficking charges was the first victim of recent loyalist paramilitary punishment-style attacks.
The 36-year-old was found lying in Kilberry Park in the Ballybeen Estate on the evening of September 23. He had been shot in both legs by the UDA of Southeast Antrim. He faces drug-related charges, including trafficking in cocaine and cannabis.
The day after his shooting, another man, who is in his 40s, was punched in the knee by the North Down UDA during a penalty shootout by appointment.
He was told to report to the gang members who blew his leg up on Drumhirk Drive in the Kilcooley area.
His “crime” was to have confronted a senior official of the UDA of Holywood and his teenage son.
“He was at a party in an apartment in Holywood when teenagers started throwing bottles at the windows,” a UDA source told Sunday Life.
“He came out, grabbed one and chased the others. The young boy’s father, who is a UDA commander in Holywood, later went down and confronted the guy, who got the better of him in a fight.
“He complained to the North Down UDA and the guy, who has a reputation for being a tough guy, was asked to come to Kilcooley for a knee brace by appointment.”
The third paramilitary-style attack was carried out by the UVF in Carrickfergus last weekend, with a gang of men beating a man with baseball bats.
The assault, on Cherry Walk in the seaside town of Co Antrim, has been reported to be the result of an ongoing feud between the families. The victim has ties to loyalist Paul Patterson, who had ties to the UVF but was jailed last year for possession of ammunition belonging to the UDA in southeast Antrim.
Preventing punitive attacks is a key priority for the Paramilitary Crime Working Group, which has seen a decline in crimes of this nature year on year.
PSNI figures from March 2020 to March this year show that 43 took place during this period, up from 62 in the previous 12 months.
Condemning the loyalist paramilitaries involved in the recent shootings and beatings, Superintendent McKee (lawadded: “Those involved, who hide behind a paramilitary name, seek to dominate communities through fear and control, but the vast majority of the local population just want to prosper and live in peace and do not support these criminals. .
“Those who carry out these violent attacks do not care about the long-term physical and emotional damage they inflict on their victims, their families and the community. “
Anyone with information about any of the recent punishment-type attacks is encouraged to contact PSNI on 101 or the Crimestoppers charity on 0800 555 111.