'farce' | 

New mural will commemorate loyalist who was beaten and shot by UDA over woman attack claims

'I hand-picked four of the nastiest individuals I could find to give him the beating of his life. He was battered with hammers and sticks and he was also shot in both legs.'

The controversial new mural will be in memory of Ernie Dougan

Hugh Jordan

A top loyalist who was shot and beaten by the UDA over claims he was behind a sinister attack on a woman is to be commemorated this week in a new terror mural, the Sunday World can reveal.

UVF East Antrim Brigade 'Officer Commanding' Ernie Dougan (53) died two years ago and now the terror group plans to commemorate him in the Ballyduff area of Newtownabbey, near Belfast.

But the Sunday World has learned that Dougan had himself been the victim of loyalist paramilitaries when he was given a punishment beating over claims he broke into a woman's home and tried to assault her.

At the time of Dougan's death in March 2020, the UVF issued a statement explaining it was unable to pay proper respect to its leader as a result of coronavirus restrictions.

But a memorial parade and mural dedication is to take place in the Ballyduff estate on Friday evening.

A new mural tribute is to be painted on a wall near shops showing a photograph of a smiling Dougan enshrined in a UVF slogan and surrounded by a ring of red poppies.

On either side of the former UVF leader's picture, two masked men are shown holding assault rifles. And a newly built garden with a wrought iron gate has been specially landscaped for the occasion.

The Spot in Ballyduff where Ernie Dougan is to be remembered in a new paramilitary mural

All available UVF men in the Newtownabbey area have been ordered to turn out in force.

However, extensive Sunday World inquiries in north Belfast this week revealed that Dougan had been previously forced out of the Oldpark area of Belfast after he was suspected of carrying out a string of sinister incidents.

In one incident, Dougan was alleged to have broken into the home of a woman with learning difficulties.

Dougan's name was also in the frame for several other break-ins in the close-knit north Belfast district.

The Sunday World tracked down a former UDA leader who admitted giving the go-ahead for Dougan to be beaten within an inch of his life.

He told us: "It's an absolute farce that he's being honoured in this way. And if I'm being honest, it tells us more about the people organising it.

"Dougan had a reputation as a cigarette dealer, a thief and a house breaker. He never joined a paramilitary organisation or played a role in the defence of his community against the IRA.

"But when it also emerged he had attacked vulnerable women in the area, the UDA moved against him. He was also accused of attacking a pensioner.

"I hand-picked four of the nastiest individuals I could find to give him the beating of his life. He was battered with hammers and sticks and he was also shot in both legs. He was lucky to come out of it alive.

"When Dougan recovered, he moved to Newtownabbey where he joined the UVF, but as far as paramilitary organisations are concerned, he's a Johnny-come-lately who joined up after the Troubles were over," he said.

"It's farcical that he's being remembered on a UVF wall mural later this week."

Dougan grew up in Walton Street in the Oldpark area but as the Troubles developed, he studiously avoided paramilitary organisations.

But when local people complained to the UDA about Dougan, a paramilitary kangaroo court found him guilty and shortly afterwards he was attacked in his home by an armed UDA punishment squad.

Dougan was battered with hammers before he was shot in both legs.

It was after this incident, he moved to the Ballyduff estate in south east Antrim, where he joined the UVF.

It is believed Dougan - who had previously refused to join any paramilitary group - enlisted shortly after his brother Robert was shot dead by the IRA.

Robert, a 38-year-old father of one, was murdered by an IRA hit squad in Dunmurry in 1998.

A leading member of the South Belfast UDA, Dougan was attacked as he waited to collect a female friend outside a local textile company.

From Oranmore Drive in the Suffolk area, he had survived two previous attempts on his life.


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