NewsNorthern Ireland

UVF plot to drive catholics from Belfast city centre housing and apartments

Northern IrelandBy Richard Sullivan
Sandy Row in the heart of Belfast
Sandy Row in the heart of Belfast

The UVF is set to launch a sectarian hate campaign in support of the Ligoniel Orangemen.

We  can reveal the terror group held a meeting in south Belfast on Wednesday evening also attended by representatives from the east and north of the city.

Hosted by south Belfast commander Eddie `Onions’ Rainey it agreed a blueprint for an anti-catholic hate campaign in an attempt to put the pressure on the government to accede to a list of demands including the stalled Orange parade in north Belfast.

As revealed by the Sunday World last week the UVF intend to hijack  a call from the Orange Order leadership for a campaign of peaceful protests against the continued refusal to grant permission for the completion of the Ligoniel parade.

The UVF intends to target catholic families in a systematic campaign of intimidation leading up to the marching season. Security chiefs are already concerned at the prospect of a tense summer.

In the firing line will be foreign nationals and there is increased anxiety that students may also be targeted as the Ulster University develops its city centre campus and increased student accommodation is built in south Belfast.

Sources within the UVF described the campaign as a `smoking gun’ to the head of the government.

“The meeting was called for Wednesday night,” said our source, “a whole range of issues were discussed but in particular Twadell and the forthcoming (Gary) Haggartt supergrass trial.

 “The message was blunt,  any catholics living in or close to  loytalist areas are to be put out.”

He said social housing schemes and student accommodation in particular are to be targeted.

We understand that plans to build student housing on the site of the former Albion shirt factory off Sandy Row are to be monitored.   New houses on Broadway between loyalist Donegall Road and the Falls are due to allocated in the coming weeks and the UVF have said they will not allow homes to be granted to foreign nationals or anyone they perceive to be catholic.

The Whitehall Square apartment block, also on Sandy Row is to be targeted.   It’s not the first time the upmarket development have come in for attention from loyalist paramilitaries. In the past the building has been daubed with anti-catholic slogans.

The complex was seen as a sign Belfast was becoming more cosmopolitan, it was  a view not shared by  local residents who have variously dubbed it `Vatican Square’ and `White Chapel.’

“We want these people to leave,” said a loyalist source.

“We believe a large proportion of people living there are from the catholic persuasion, and it could be that they will be given 24  hours to get out. If they don’t they leave themselves open to further action.”

He said Wednesday’s meeting made it clear their intention is to target caholics.

“It’s all about getting the taigs out and keeping  the prods in.   It’s a step back in time and is the same tactic they have used time and time again.”

He said there is little support among the organisation’s membership but there are enough `young guns’ keen to make a name for themselves who will be more than willing to do the leadership’s bidding.

He said the attacks would not be limited to loyalist areas but could spread to the periphery of what are conceived as loyalist districts.

This week a social  housing development in Carryduff  in the Belfast commuter belt was claimed by loyalists. UVF flags and signs were erected  and an entire section of railings  were daubed in red white and blue paint.

The 40 house development, which is near completion,  is not in a loyalist district but is close to Killynure estate which is regarded as mainly unionist.  Carryduff  is a typical commuter belt town and has always been regarded as a socially and religiously mixed.

“They (UVF) say this campaign is about getting the parade down the road, by hook or by c rook, but they also have an eye on the Haggarty trial,” said our source.

“They think they can put a gun to the government’s head, if they want to go ahead with Haggarty then they will see catholic families being petrol bombed out of their homes.”

He said veteran members have warned the leadership, including Rainey, that such campaigns in the past have yielded little or nothing for loyalists.

“Have they forgotten Drumcree,” said our source, “they firebombed a house and murdered the Quinn children, are they seriously suggesting we go down that road again.”

Three young brothers were murdered in a loyalist arson attack in Ballymoney, at the height of the Drumcree protests in 1998.

The boys - Richard Quinn, 11, Mark Quinn, 9, and Jason Quinn, 7 - were asleep in their beds when a petrol bomb was thrown through a window at the rear of their terraced house in the early hours of the morning on the Twelfth.

The Quinns were Catholics living on the predominantly Protestant Carnany estate, but they were accepted by the community and attended a Protestant school.

“It seems to be ok for drug dealers to move into protestant areas but not catholics. This is going to be a very long summer.”