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SQUEAL DEAL UDA thugs 'run for cover' as drug gang led by 'Piglet' Coburn told to disband or face consequences

Around 150 UDA thugs were told to disband and cease their drug dealing activities this week - by text message

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Drug dealer and recovering addict Raymond ‘Piglet’ Coburn

Drug dealer and recovering addict Raymond ‘Piglet’ Coburn

Drug dealer and recovering addict Raymond ‘Piglet’ Coburn

Around 150 UDA thugs were told to disband and cease their drug dealing activities this week - by text message.

And the shock news - part of a UDA clean-up bid aimed at getting their share of millions of pounds of government funds - has sent one beleaguered boss 'squealing' all the way home as old enemies have already begun settling old scores.

The terror group members had all been members of the UDA's notorious 'B' Company which had been run by a figure known within loyalism as 'The Rat'.

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UDA leader Jackie McDonald

UDA leader Jackie McDonald

UDA leader Jackie McDonald

He was raking in thousands of pounds for West Belfast UDA but while he was facing serious criminal charges last year he had to stand aside.

Incredibly the terror group, according to sources, have put a convicted thug and drug dealer in control of 'B' Company - recovering addict Raymond 'Piglet' Coburn.

Coburn earned his nickname from his days working on a pig farm.

He was always believed to be a puppet in charge of the rag-tag bunch of loyalists that formed 'B' Company with The Rat still pulling the strings.

Now both have been left out in the cold and without the cover and protection afforded to them as part of the UDA and sources say there are plenty looking to take revenge for previous disputes.

"It's a duck hunt on the Shankill at the moment with ex-UDA men running for cover," said a source.

"It's the biggest purge of UDA men ever seen and it's being done by their own. It's massive. There are people scattering and running for cover now.

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Jim Spence

Jim Spence

Jim Spence

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"The text message was sent out a few days ago telling every single member of The Rat's UDA gang they were finished. They were told to disband and ordered to stop dealing drugs.

"He had control of around 150 members stretching from the Shankill to Tigers Bay, Antrim, Ballymena, Glengormley and Dervock.

"They were known as the rejects because they'd mostly been kicked out or been refused to join other units and paramilitary organisations. They were mostly 'muscle' designed to make the UDA a fortune in drug money.

"And they made loads of enemies along the way. The Piglet has already been confronted at a supermarket petrol station on Wednesday night.

"He was spotted by a loyalist who had an old score to settle and went for him. Words were exchanged and Coburn was chased round the forecourt for a couple of minutes. He managed to make his escape with the help of his mum who drove him away from trouble.

"Apparently after being told to disband he went to South East Antrim and asked for cover but was told where to go."

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Denis Cunningham

Denis Cunningham

Denis Cunningham

As revealed last week, sources claim the UDA in west Belfast has undergone a major shake-up which included top UDA figures like Jim Spence and Denis 'Dopey' Cunningham standing down.

A spokesperson for Jim Spence said in a statement to the Sunday World last night: "Mr Spence has not 'stood down' from any role as a senior UDA figure, because Mr Spence is not, and never has been, a member of any proscribed organisation.

"It is trite to point out that the UDA prior to 1992 was an entirely lawful organisation."

It's understood the UDA has taken drastic action against its lawless drug dealing wing in a bid to convince the government they deserve a slice of around £50 million 'Fresh Start' funding believed to be sloshing about for paramilitary groups who vow to transform.

It comes after it emerged last year the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, hosted secret meetings with loyalists as well as republicans and government officials at Lambeth Palace in London.

Figures from the Loyalist Communities Council (LCC) including UVF-linked Winston Winkie Irvine as well as UVF leaders Bunter Graham and Harry Stockman were invited to London for talks.

Sources say while the UDA was represented, they were sidelined to some extent because of their rampant criminality in west Belfast and specifically their link to drug dealing and other criminality.

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Brigadier Matt Kincaid

Brigadier Matt Kincaid

Brigadier Matt Kincaid

"After those meetings in England the UDA were told to get their house in order and ditch the criminality if they wanted some of this money," said a source.

"Matt Kincaid (West Belfast Brigadier) was worried the UDA was going to miss out and get left behind. Leaders were worried the UVF would get most of the money because everyone knows in west Belfast it's the UDA who run the drug gangs.

"Senior UDA figures like Jackie McDonald also made it clear other areas run by the UDA wanted to benefit from the community funding and didn't want to miss out because of the rampant drug dealing being carried out in west Belfast.

"That's why there's been this shake-up and it's why 'B' Company was told they had been completely dissolved.

"Winkie has been tasked with keeping the UVF on the Shankill in check while a relative of Mo Courtney is taking charge on the ground of the UDA in place of Jim Spence.

"Men on the ground are saying what they are doing is turning UDA men into 'Paid Peacekeepers'."

As a result the PSNI are keeping a close eye on developments within the terror group as threats have already been issued to now ex-'B' Company members.

"There's a dispute going back nearly seven years when members from the gang attacked a man who had links to Mount Vernon UVF with hatchets and hammers," says a source.

"That has been bubbling away ever since because the man was left with serious injuries. The men who did it had the cover of the UDA and couldn't be touched but that has gone and I know there are people in Mount Vernon who are ready to take revenge.

"There's loads of examples like that. The Rat himself hasn't been seen since his gang was disbanded. His house has been in darkness and there was some kind of attack at his door."

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Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, who hosted secret meetings with loyalists at Lambeth Palace

Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, who hosted secret meetings with loyalists at Lambeth Palace

Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, who hosted secret meetings with loyalists at Lambeth Palace


Sources on the Shankill remain sceptical as to whether the UDA can ever detach itself from drug dealing and criminality.

"It might work for a while, but drug dealing was raking in more money than the government can ever wave under their nose," said an insider.

"Make no mistake, this is a massive shake-up of the UDA and time will tell to see of they are genuine. There's no doubt there are plenty of loyalist in the UDA and the UVF who want to transform genuinely into community groups.

"But drug dealing on the Shankill isn't going to stop - if the UDA don't do it someone else will fill the void. It's very likely what you will see is the UDA doing more of what the UVF does and start taxing drug dealers.

"That way they can say their members aren't involved in dealing but they'll still be making a fortune from it."

steven.moore@sundayworld.com

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