29/10/2013 Spotlight


29/10/2013

Hard-hitting investigations. Stephen Dempster reports on a resurgence in UVF activity in Belfast and investigates its impact in loyalist communities.


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Transcript


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Tonight we seek to go behind the mask of the UVF. Almost 20 years

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after veteran UVF man Gusty Spence announced a cease-fire. We will

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cease all hostilities. Spotlight investigate an organisation that has

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murdered 27 people and intimidated its community. There is a tendency

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to dismiss this as criminality and not recognise it as politically

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motivated and a terrorist threat. We hear from UVF whistle-blower how the

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UVF forced the men to attend parades. We ask is enough being done

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by the police? We cannot see any tangible sign that they are moving

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against these individuals. We hear from a woman who says the UVF are

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being given positions of responsibility in the community

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while continuing their criminality. It is like the Mafia stop the Will

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bear is to pay them and keep them quiet. -- the will of the year is to

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pay them and keep them quiet. The brutal shooting of our young

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woman in East Belfast. Gemma McGrath, a 24-year-old care worker,

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is shot more than eight times, wounded in the legs and abdomen. She

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survives, but the attack sends shock and fear through this loyalist

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community. It was horrific. It was barbaric. The idea that the takes a

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strong man to take a gun and shoot her in any way furthers any cause is

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an abhorrent one. The PSNI is cheating the shooting as attempted

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murder. The motive remains unclear. Rumours spread that it was connected

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to drugs. Those close to Gemma McGrath rejects this. Police have

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not said who is responsible. Police think the UVF shot Gemma McGrath. I

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am told that is based on an intelligence assessments. I am also

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told that there was another shooting a few days earlier. Both those

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shootings are linked to the UVF. These attacks are the latest in a

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string of incidents in the east of the city over the last year went to

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the UVF. These include street disorder, attempts to kill police

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officer 's, and the unveiling of new paramilitary murals. East Belfast

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has come to be regarded as the most dangerous battalion of the UVF.

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Tonight we learn more about this secretive UVF gang from a source

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within the loyalist community who agreed to speak to us anonymously.

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If he spoke on Canada he believed he would be shot, so we have called him

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job, and his words are spoken by an actor. The UVF fink East Belfast is

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theirs. They have built an empire. They are out of control. One of the

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characteristics of them is their reputation and propensity for

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violence. That has been demonstrated through the years by murderers and

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attacks on their own community. They also get involved in violence at

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interfaces. Our source says that the UVF in East Belfast uses alias

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connections to bring in drugs. In East Belfast if you look at the

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crimes being committed, cigarette lorries being hurt, businesses being

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robbed, there are common threads. There are common names being

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arrested and convicted. They are connected with the UVF. That network

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helps distribute drugs in the community stop the UVF has become a

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criminal enterprise. Led by criminals lining their pockets. It

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is not about defending Ulster. They have a coherence which is different

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from an organised crime group. They are a difficult targets to operate

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against. John says others, including the UDA at involved in drugs in East

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Belfast, but he insists the vast majority of drugs are brought in by

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the UVF or controlled by them. They would pay a certain amount each

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month to a paramilitary organisation or they will be the UVF as a

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punishment. Spotlight has been given numerous

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examples of threats and intimidation in East Belfast and elsewhere. UVF

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criminal activity is nothing new, but the extent of it is. It is a

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serious consequence of the drugs trade in particular that is raising

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concern. Alex Bunting works with the victims

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of drug abuse. He did not want to talk about the UVF, but did explain

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the misery he is seeing in East Belfast. Families have had to take

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out a day loans. They have had to sell furniture, sell jewellery,

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out a day loans. They have had to things like that. It is terrible.

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Some drug dealers pulled to the front door of the parents and tell

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them that their son or daughter owes money. That drives the family into

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despair. It is not uncommon for the pressures that drug dealers place on

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drug users to push them towards suicide. A spate of drug deaths hit

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East Belfast earlier this year. Spotlight understands two of those

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who died had links to the UVF. Including this man, Alio McKenzie, a

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close friend of Gemma McGrath. The family denies there is a link to

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drugs, but it is understood she was under threat and left the area

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during the summer. A decision to retire and almost cost her life. --

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to the turn. Loyalists commemorating deformation

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of the original UVF in 1913. -- the formation.

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Loyalist Winston Irving says it is purely commemorative. There is no

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paraphernalia which would represent any contemporary conflict. This is

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about remembering a very important aspect of history. During the

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Troubles the UVF and the Red Hand Commando were linked to 500 murders.

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While it has been on cease-fire since 1994 it remains an illegal

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organisation. It did the Commission but did not fulfil a promise to

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disband. -- it did decommission. This man has helped to negotiate

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cease-fires. He says there is evidence the organisation is

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recruiting a game. They are recruiting not for any military

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purpose, but into the bands and so on. That at the same time that seems

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to contradict the idea of stepping to contradict the idea of stepping

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down the UVF. It cannot be doing two things. It cannot be seeing it. Down

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the UVF as a military organisation but still recruit young men in, and

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those young men being recruited and will have some expect nations.

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Spotlight has spoken to a whistle-blower, then the ranks of

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the UVF itself who says it is recruiting. To protect his identity

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we have used an actor to reconstruct his interview. We have called him

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Jim. At the UVF still recruiting? Yes. Parades, protests. It is a drip

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feed over years. There are new faces at the Brian Robinson Parade.

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Parades in honour of dead members like this one for Brian Robinson are

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also viewed as UVF shows of strength. But according to other UVF

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source is the size of the parades can be misleading.

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You have told me you were forced to go on UVF parades. We did not show

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we would get a fine of ?50, or a beating. You had no option but to

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show. Guys were forced to miss work. Astonishingly Jim also claims that

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many members want to leave the UVF that are not allowed to. The going

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rate to buy yourselves out is ?3000. Hang the parades and pageantry, he

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says some UVF leaders are desperately trying to ensure the

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organisation remains intact. -- behind the parades and pageantry.

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Since the cease-fire it has killed 27 people from the loyalist

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community. The last killing was of a member of the Red Hand Commando in

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2010. At that time this woman spoke to Spotlight about intimidation in

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the area. If you live within these areas these guys still have control.

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The UVF has not murdered anyone since Bobby Moffatt so has the

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situation changed? No, I would say it has got worse. People are so

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frightened to speak out. UVF threatened beatings continue. Some

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victims are forced to leave the area. Do you know people up in

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Excel? Yes, I do. How common is that? The XL would be quite common.

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Not out of the country, but that of the area. What is not always like

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that? No it was not. This person is a UVF victim to. Her

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nephew, Craig McCausland, was shot dead by the group in 2005 stop no

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one has ever been caught for the killing. She is one of the very few

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who will still speak out against the activities of the UVF.

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Are you afraid that by speaking out you could put yourself in a

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vulnerable position? I am aware of that. But I feel that... I will not

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let them stop me. I feel I owe it to Craig and his mum to speak out. It

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is the only way I have of trying to get some sort of justice for them.

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In East Belfast, the Alliance MP Naomi Long has lived with a death

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threat from the UVF for nearly a year. Three weeks ago her office was

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targeted in a bomb alert. She says she has seen a rise in the number of

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people coming to her living with intimidation, usually from the UVF.

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We have had people who have received threats, because they have for

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example had a dispute with a neighbour over a trivial issue. But

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that Labour has connections. They find themselves being intimidated in

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their home. We have business will who come to us and say they cannot

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do their business because their staff are being intimidated or they

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are being intimidated. Former Lord Mayor of Belfast, Gavin Robinson,

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says there are schools of people in the area under threat. He describes

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the climate of fear which is created by all sorts of intimidation, and

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not just incidents like the shooting of Gemma McGrath. Individuals are

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having to deal with this day in, day out and they know people could

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strike at any time, they know people are holding a grip and want to

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maintain their grip on our community in such a dangerous and destructive

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way. One way the UVF stamps its authority on the community is with

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its paramilitary murals which compete for space with cultural

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murals. A painting celebrating George Best replaced a UVF mural.

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Last month, it was painted over with something more sinister. There has

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been a lot of talk and publicity about the new UVF mural here in

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Sydenham. From people I have spoken to it is obviously having a negative

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impact on the community. But as soon as the paramilitary word is

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mentioned, people find it very difficult to talk. Terry Hoey has

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lived in East Belfast all his life. He did not want to discuss the UVF

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but he admits the new mural has led to a feeling of decline in the area.

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I look at this area and it is not what it was. Whether it is because

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of fear, it seems all the work that has been done, all the good work

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that has been done has been undone. You do get worried that it is going

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to go back to the way it used to be. I hope it never goes back like

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that and I don't think it will. I would love them just to put the

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George Best mural back again but I know they are not going to do that!

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The appearance of dozens of sinister looking men at the unveiling of the

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mural in September led to frightened calls to the Alliance party office.

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There is an issue about perception, while the UVF is able to exert

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influence and control of the community, the fact that there is no

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intervention creates a perception that the police are either not able

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or not confident in being able to deal with those issues. Some victims

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-- someone victims have been able to turn to is this man, Raymond McCord.

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His son was murdered by the UVF in 1987. Over the years he has dealt

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with hundreds of UVF victims. Mothers and fathers sitting at the

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table crying. People did not want to know, it is too dangerous to speak

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to the sort of people they are told. During this programme I have heard

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from a dozen people who are too scared to talk to the police about

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the intimidation they are suffering. In virtually all have expressed a

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lack of trust in the police or no confidence that they will take

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perception, right or wrong, is that perception, right or wrong, is that

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the police have turned a blind eye to a lot of UVF activity or not

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fully confronted it. I push these issues with police and I cannot see

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a need tangible sign that they are moving against these individuals. It

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is not good enough that these people feel they no longer have recourse

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with the PSNI. In a bid to keep the peace, police talk to UVF community

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workers to try to prevent scenes like this in January. Naomi Long

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warns this is further undermining confidence in the police. If they

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see the police talking to some of these individuals, who are the cause

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see the police talking to some of of their fear, and they are

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therefore worried that by sharing that information with the police,

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they may make themselves more vulnerable. I have no evidence that

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that is the case but I understand why that does not reassure many of

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my constituents, who are fearful that that relationship is to close.

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It is proper that we do engage in conversations, that we tell people

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what is going on with the perception that this allows people to have a

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free hand is completely wrong. The PSNI says it is tackling the UVF in

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East Belfast and points out the convictions of the group's members

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are usually for ordinary crime and so not reported as UVF activity.

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But it is not just over policing that the UVF is perceived to have

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some official role in the community. Our source John says trees have

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forcefully taken over community groups and have cosy relations with

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hall editions and churchmen. He claims they are crowding out

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ordinary people who are being silenced. At every level,

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paramilitary organisations have influenced from the grassroots up.

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If you are a member of the community in East Belfast, and you are part of

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a group which focuses on community safe safety audit district

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policing, and you go to a meeting and see a paramilitary sitting

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around a table. This is the public face of Winston Winkie Irvine. Here

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he is at the parades stand-off sharing the platform with the Orange

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order. Orange man Billy Mawhinney threatens a campaign of civil

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disobedience unless the 12th of March is allowed to complete its

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journey home. Here he is speaking about a dissident pipe on attack

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earlier this year. There are people who are still intent to use violence

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and bombs to try and pursue up political agenda. He also has a

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variety of positions on community organisations, many of which entail

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him working closely with the PSNI. He appears to be a pillar of the

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Loyalist community. But Cathy McIlvenny says she believes Mr

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Irvine also have another role. He is a commander of the UVF. Cathy says

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she first came to know of Mr Irvine's role in the UVF because she

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dealt with him as the UVF man who ordered a punishment shooting of her

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nephew Craig in 2000 two. He came into my home as a UVF representative

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and I knew they were taking Craig out to shoot him. Spotlight has

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spoken to a dozen people who have also told us they know Mr Irvine is

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a senior UVF man. Including our whistle-blower Jim. Winkie Irvine is

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commander of the company. It turns my stomach to see him as the PU P

:21:07.:21:10.

spokesman because I know what history he has. Jim recalls him at a

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meeting shortly after the murder of Bobby Moffat in 2010. He says

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rumours that they were being stood down were quickly quashed by Winkie

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Irvine. We were going to get our P 45s. We were going to be let go.

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That was quickly put to bed. What happened at that meeting? The next

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thing that happened is the be company commander got on the stage

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and said, you think you are here for your pipe and slippers, you are not.

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What you take that to mean? No one is going anywhere. The allocation

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that Irvine is the commander of the company has been frequently

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reported. Nevertheless, he was appointed to the releasing

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partnership, an appointment Cathy McIlvenny objects to. To me,

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policing partnership should not have a paramilitary sitting on it. The

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ordinary person on the street cannot complain because you're going to the

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paramilitary is to complain. Cathy has complained to the policing board

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about that appointment. She wants to know how the man was allowed on the

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partnership because all appointments are vetted by the police. The answer

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to that is they sign an oath not to take part in criminality or

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paramilitary activity and they did not promote by deed or action any

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paramilitary group. The police a vetting the membership of policing

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partnerships is not a matter for them. The police and community

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safety partnerships are one of the bodies that the policing board has a

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direct responsibility for. The police service did not have

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responsibility for either the formation the running of those.

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Obviously, we attend but it belongs to the policing board. The policing

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board said independent members of the partnerships are pointed in line

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with the Justice code of practice. As the policing partnership member,

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Mr Irvine is pledged not to support by word or deed any terrorist

:23:33.:23:41.

organisation. Yet, Cathy McIlvenny and our whistle-blower are adamant

:23:42.:23:46.

that he is commander of a UVF company which is still active and

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still recruiting members. Since his appointment last year, he has

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attended UVF parades and this Alston covenant commemoration, in the

:23:58.:24:00.

company of individuals widely reported to be senior UVF figures.

:24:01.:24:07.

Here he is at those celebrations. He says these are historical

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commemorations but he is leading a group of Shankill men and beside him

:24:12.:24:17.

two men who are regularly reported to be senior UVF commanders, Joe

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McCaw and Harry Stockman. Spotlight wrote to Irvine, Stockman and

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McCaw, along with a close associate, this man, John Bunter

:24:30.:24:34.

Graham who has been reported on many occasions to be the leader of the

:24:35.:24:39.

UVF. In solicitors' letters to the BBC, all four men deny ever being

:24:40.:24:44.

UVF members. In his letter Mr Irvine said, the allegation that he is a

:24:45.:24:49.

company commander is proposed us. He said he had never been a member of

:24:50.:24:54.

an illegal organisation. But that claim is at odds with this

:24:55.:25:01.

photograph of him in the early 1990s, or walking in a UVF colour

:25:02.:25:08.

party. In his left hand he is carrying a wreath on behalf of the

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UVF. Indeed, allegations of the role of all of these men in the UVF have

:25:13.:25:17.

been well documented in reports over several years. Harry stop and is

:25:18.:25:24.

seen here at the announcement of UVF decommissioning in 2009 -- Harry

:25:25.:25:30.

Stockman. It is reported he read the organisation's disarmament

:25:31.:25:33.

statement. This is John Bunter Graham, in a picture from the 1970s,

:25:34.:25:38.

with his fellow members of the UVF in the Shankhill. Along with him is

:25:39.:25:43.

the infamous Shankhill Butcher Lenny Murphy. Spotlight has a sworn

:25:44.:25:51.

affidavit from a former detective who says he has long known Graham,

:25:52.:25:59.

Stockman and McCaw as UVF men and we have two affidavits from individuals

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prepared to name Irvine as a UVF commander. For Cathy, Winston Irvine

:26:02.:26:07.

is a prime example of how someone she believes to be a paramilitary is

:26:08.:26:11.

allowed officially sanctioned power and influence in the community while

:26:12.:26:14.

she says continuing to be a UVF and influence in the community while

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leader. It is like the Mafia. There is no will to bring these guys

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down. The will is to pay them to keep quiet and make it look like on

:26:24.:26:32.

the surface that everyone is living in peace. The ordinary people still

:26:33.:26:35.

respect the police and law and order. What they do not respect is a

:26:36.:26:39.

cover-up. They do not respect the UVF being treated on a par with

:26:40.:26:44.

politicians because they know the paramilitary 's are still the

:26:45.:26:48.

criminal elements which are running crime in their area. Over the last

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12 months, the UVF leaders who were supposed to have gone away have not

:26:54.:26:58.

just being a policing and community issue but a political problem as

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well. Increasingly, they have brought their politics to the

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street, with a declaration of intent on the first night of the flags

:27:06.:27:11.

protest which began at City Hall. They did hijack the flags protest. I

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was there on the night of December the 3rd. The impact of the protests

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and the trouble that followed was immense. Belfast traders lost over

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?50 million and the policing bill topped ?22 million. Once again, East

:27:26.:27:31.

Belfast UVF were named as prime movers in the trouble. Senior

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members of the UVF in east Belfast have been increasingly orchestrating

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some of this violence, not with the collective endorsement of the UVF

:27:43.:27:46.

per se. While the flags protests have died down, the focus has turned

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to parades. Our source inside the UVF says his experience is the UVF

:27:55.:27:58.

as an organisation is involved in flags and parades protests, at times

:27:59.:28:05.

ordering members to take part. It is common knowledge they force people

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to go. They do not have a choice. I have personally seen guys that flag

:28:13.:28:16.

protests who for a long time want out of the UVF. For them to be at

:28:17.:28:22.

the flags protest, it was bizarre as to why they would be there. The

:28:23.:28:28.

group Raymond McCord setup to help victims has closed down, due to lack

:28:29.:28:35.

of funding. Meanwhile, the UVF continue to terrorise Loyalist

:28:36.:28:38.

communities. More people will die, more people will lose their homes,

:28:39.:28:44.

more young people will beaten. It will not stop. People are very

:28:45.:28:48.

nervous and very uncertain about the future and what the role of the UVF

:28:49.:28:53.

can be in the future. If they want to move forward and be productive

:28:54.:28:57.

members of society, they do it on the basis that everyone else does it

:28:58.:29:03.

and that is as an individual, with no records to violence. Unless that

:29:04.:29:08.

line is very clearly drawn, I think we have serious problems going

:29:09.:29:14.

forward. Two decades after the UVF leadership told us the union is

:29:15.:29:18.

safe, the question must be asked, safe for whom?

:29:19.:29:25.

Stephen Dempster reports on a resurgence in UVF activity on Belfast's streets and investigates its impact in loyalist communities.


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