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Hot wheels Loyalist banner burner revealed as 'ruthless' UVF man Joe Coggles

Coggles was sentenced to 18 years in 1993 for his part in a foiled UVF gun attempt in a Catholic area

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Coggles sets fire to the flag

Coggles sets fire to the flag

Coggles sets fire to the flag

This is the man branded in court as a "ruthless" terrorist "bent on wholesale murder" who lit a nationalist banner at this week's anti-Protocol protests.

Joe Coggles was among a raft of prominent loyalists who took part in the controversial march along the Shankill Road in west Belfast. Many of those who took part wore masks and the demonstration itself was illegal as organisers did not ask for permission.

Joe Coggles, who was sentenced to 18 years in 1993 for his part in a foiled UVF gun attempt in a Catholic area, left his wheelchair to pour petrol over the stolen banner.

It was lit against the peaceline dividing Protestants and Catholics.

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The Shankill protest

The Shankill protest

The Shankill protest

He told a reporter that if violence was needed to overturn the Protocol "so be it". The images back up fears that the protests - attended by over 3,000 people - are being hijacked by paramilitaries.

Sinn Féin MP Paul Maskey said: "Hooded men on our streets or calls to provoke instability have no place in our society and those in positions of leadership need to make that clear."

He added: "Videos and images have been widely shared on social media showing masked men marching, carrying containers of petrol and preparing to destroy a stolen Sinn Féin banner.

"They then set it alight against an interface fence, just yards from the homes of nationalists, in a deliberate attempt to provoke and raise tensions."

The police estimated around 3,000 people took to the streets in the protest which left Woodvale Park shortly after 7pm on Thursday before making its way towards the Shankill Leisure Centre where protesters dispersed.

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Masked loyalists watch a nationalist banner burn this week

Masked loyalists watch a nationalist banner burn this week

Masked loyalists watch a nationalist banner burn this week

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Bands also joined the parade and did not give the Parades Commission notification beforehand.

The PSNI said it was now reviewing footage gathered in an "evidence-gathering operation" at the unnotified parade.

West Belfast UDA leader Jim Spence was slso seen standing on the sidelines during the protest.

A short distance away, inches from where a Sinn Féin united Ireland banner was torched, well-known UVF man 'Harmless' Harry Stockman was also spotted.

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