29/10/2013 Spotlight


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

Similar Content

Browse content similar to 29/10/2013. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!



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


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


cease all hostilities. Spotlight investigate an organisation that has


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


to dismiss this as criminality and not recognise it as politically


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


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


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


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


being given positions of responsibility in the community


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


characteristics of them is their reputation and propensity for


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


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


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


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


crimes being committed, cigarette lorries being hurt, businesses being


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


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


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


criminal enterprise. Led by criminals lining their pockets. It


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


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


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


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


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


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


punishment. Spotlight has been given numerous


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


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


serious consequence of the drugs trade in particular that is raising


concern. Alex Bunting works with the victims


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


East Belfast earlier this year. Spotlight understands two of those


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


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


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


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


to the turn. Loyalists commemorating deformation


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


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


paraphernalia which would represent any contemporary conflict. This is


about remembering a very important aspect of history. During the


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


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


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


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


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


recruiting a game. They are recruiting not for any military


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


source is the size of the parades can be misleading.


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


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


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


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


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


says some UVF leaders are desperately trying to ensure the


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


frightened to speak out. UVF threatened beatings continue. Some


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


that Labour has connections. They find themselves being intimidated in


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


do their business because their staff are being intimidated or they


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


its paramilitary murals which compete for space with cultural


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


intervention creates a perception that the police are either not able


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


therefore worried that by sharing that information with the police,


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


forcefully taken over community groups and have cosy relations with


hall editions and churchmen. He claims they are crowding out


ordinary people who are being silenced. At every level,


paramilitary organisations have influenced from the grassroots up.


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


a group which focuses on community safe safety audit district


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


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


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


order. Orange man Billy Mawhinney threatens a campaign of civil


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


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


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


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


variety of positions on community organisations, many of which entail


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


Loyalist community. But Cathy McIlvenny says she believes Mr


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


that Irvine is the commander of the company has been frequently


reported. Nevertheless, he was appointed to the releasing


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


paramilitary group. The police a vetting the membership of policing


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


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


direct responsibility for. The police service did not have


responsibility for either the formation the running of those.


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


board said independent members of the partnerships are pointed in line


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


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


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


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


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


attended UVF parades and this Alston covenant commemoration, in the


company of individuals widely reported to be senior UVF figures.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


the infamous Shankhill Butcher Lenny Murphy. Spotlight has a sworn


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


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


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


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


allowed officially sanctioned power and influence in the community while


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


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


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


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


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


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


politicians because they know the paramilitary 's are still the


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


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


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


well. Increasingly, they have brought their politics to the


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


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


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


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


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


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


members of the UVF in east Belfast have been increasingly orchestrating


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


of funding. Meanwhile, the UVF continue to terrorise Loyalist


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

Download Subtitles