Hugh Jordan: UDA’s only loyalty is to crime

‘I firmly believe that the public should be left in no doubt about what went on and who was involved. It was a UDA enterprise from start to finish’

Police confront masked men in Newtownards on Thursday© Kevin Scott

Hugh JordanSunday World

It appears the Police Service of Northern Ireland made a mistake last week when releasing information about the UDA feud in North Down.

Officers fronting up the story for the press first told reporters the violent attacks were the work of the UDA.

But then less than 24 hours later the line had changed.

Officers said those involved were drugs dealers who had formerly been linked to the South East Antrim UDA and the West Belfast UDA.

And when a BBC TV reporter quizzed the police spokesman about why things had changed, the PSNI man appeared a little confused.

Earlier, the PSNI had complained that reporters were overplaying what happened in Newtownards.

But then a group of around 20 masked men appeared on the streets near the town’s courthouse, sending the police into a panic.

I firmly believe that the general public should be left in no doubt about what went on in North Down and who was involved. It was a UDA enterprise from start to finish.

It doesn’t matter if their former pals in Rathcoole and on the Shankill now claim they have been expelled. This war is about drugs – nothing else.

Those actually involved in the attacks live in estates which are festooned in UDA paraphernalia, so as far as I’m concerned, they are in the UDA.

Spare us the minor details and technicalities.

Are we expected to take the word of a shadowy terrorist organisation deeply involved in drug dealing, criminality and racketeering?

It appears the UDA is trying to convince us that there are now two kinds of UDA.

One UDA is also still heavily committed to transitioning into an organisation free from criminality of any kind.

It is highly polished at transitioning.

It has only been doing it for 25 years and it is expected to continue down this road, as long as government grants also continue to flow.

From now on this group should really be known as the ‘Good UDA’. Please don’t use the words ‘terrorist’ or ‘criminal’ when discussing it.

The other UDA – we have been advised – is the nasty drug-dealing UDA which arrived in nice North Down from far off Rathcoole and West Belfast.

Apparently, this bad UDA brought their drugs dealing and money-lending schemes with them, but thank God, the good UDA stepped in and sorted them out.

The people I spoke to this week in Bangor, Donaghadee, Ballywalter and Newtownards were in no doubt that those behind the recent violence were UDA men.

Local people know exactly who they are and to which terror group they belong.

This isn’t the tough Southside of Chicago, it’s North Down in Northern Ireland – where everyone knows everyone else – and that includes recently arrived interlopers from West Belfast and Carrickfergus.

It seems to me that the Northern Ireland Office is keen to get the Ards Peninsula turf war sorted out or at least under control before US President Joe Biden’s visit to celebrate 25 years of the Good Friday Agreement.

But it remains to be seen whether the UDA – good or bad – will allow it.

And, we should always remember, their only loyalty is to crime.

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