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worker intimidation South East Antrim UDA 'deny' involvement after contractors threatened in Belfast estate

The threats appeared on Tuesday beside a tower block which is due to be demolished

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Contractors withdrew from a number of sites on the estate as a result of the graffiti and other threats

Contractors withdrew from a number of sites on the estate as a result of the graffiti and other threats

Contractors withdrew from a number of sites on the estate as a result of the graffiti and other threats

Sources in Rathcoole have told the Sunday World a small gang of men connected to South East Antrim UDA were behind threats to workers in the area.

However, they say SEA UDA are distancing themselves the from threats, with the SEA hierarchy said to be “not happy” about the sudden appearance of the graffiti.

Executive contractors working to demolish a block of flats in Rathcoole were targeted in the daubings, which appeared on Tuesday, saying those working on the flats would be 'shot'.

As a result, workers downed tools and left the area.

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Dozens of workers have downed tools in the loyalist Rathcoole estate in Newtownabbey after death threats against them were sprayed on nearby hoardings. Pic: Pacemaker

Dozens of workers have downed tools in the loyalist Rathcoole estate in Newtownabbey after death threats against them were sprayed on nearby hoardings. Pic: Pacemaker

Dozens of workers have downed tools in the loyalist Rathcoole estate in Newtownabbey after death threats against them were sprayed on nearby hoardings. Pic: Pacemaker

 

There has been speculation South East Antrim were behind the threats, however one source said: “The mainstream SEA UDA are not happy about the finger of blame being pointed at them for the threats and are denying any involvement.”

The Sunday World understands one man in particular is behind the threats.

The man was previously affiliated with a well known SEA UDA leader in the area, who helped orchestrate anti-protocol violence at Cloughfern roundabout, and who was dramatically and violently ‘stood down’ from his post earlier in the year by the UDA hierarchy after receiving a beating.

It is understood the man had been bringing unwanted negative attention to Rathcoole.

The source added: “His sidekick, who had been seen personally speaking to the contractors and personally threatening them, will now find himself in hot water with yet more media attention focused on Rathcoole, and the UDA being blamed for it. The leadership is not happy at all.

"One of the reasons why they don't want the flats to come down is because one of the buildings is connected to the drugs trade in the area."

Another source said: “Rathcoole isn’t like other areas in Belfast where space for social housing is at a premium, there’s plenty of space there to build new housing, and even a play park or something like that, and people are generally very positive about the prospect of new housing being put in, so it’s a bit of a mystery as to why all these threats are being dished out.”

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The threats which appeared were sprayed on hoarding surrounding Monkscoole House, which was undergoing preparatory work ahead of being demolished.

One of the sinister threats includes an address which appears to be connected to a contractor firm in County Down.

Meanwhile, North Belfast MP John Finucane described the threats as “unacceptable”. And called for anyone with any information on the threats to contact the police.

A spokesperson for the Housing Executive said: “We can confirm that contractors have had to withdraw tenant’s services, including health and safety work, from a number of sites in Rathcoole following threats to staff and graffiti targeting contractors in the area.

“The safety of our staff and contractors is paramount, and we utterly condemn this behaviour.

“We will continue to monitor the situation.”

A PSNI spokesperson said: “We received a report on Tuesday morning that graffiti had been daubed on the site hoarding at some stage overnight.

“Enquiries are ongoing, and I am appealing to anyone with information to contact us on 101 quoting reference 266 of 23/11/21.”

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