Mob boss ‘Meerkat’ arrested as UVF and the Protestant Coalition fuel hate attacks on cops.
WHIMPERING UVF boss Colin ‘Meerkat’ Fulton is hauled away as loyalist mob rule strangles Belfast city centre. The UVF High command was on parade on Friday night as the city centre was ripped apart – cars hijacked, bars attacked, people hospitalised – proof that the paramilitary organisation orchestrated and controlled seven hours of sickening street riots.
The Sunday World can reveal that high ranking UVF figures including Shan kill chiefs Joe ‘No Neck’ McGaw, and ‘Harmless’ Harry Stockman were among hundreads of loyalists coralled on Belfast’s Royal Avenue.
Fulton’s UVF boss Eddie ‘Onions’ Rainey was also there. The paramilitary ledership watched as paving stones were ripped up and gratings used as missiles to hurl at police. Rampant loyalist mobs smashed windows at the Hudson Bar on Gresham Street stealing beer kegs which were also used as weapons. Customers in the Sunflower Lounge on Union Street had a lucky escape as a baying mob tried to smash windows. The police fired 26 plastic bullets and made seven arrests as the over-stretched force tried to contain the trouble. One unsuspecting German tourist was hauled from his car on North Street and his hire car set on fire; two American police officers who had been taking part in the World Police and Fire Games looked bewildered as violence erupted. Other Games athletes were barricaded into a city centre bar, unable to gain access to a youth hostel on Kent Street just off Royal Avenue. PSNI/RUC Chief Constable Matt Baggott ( who was fishing at the time), described the violence as “mindless anarchy” and “thugery”. He praised his officers, saying they had put their lives on the line to protect the rule of law. “I want to commend my colleagues for their immense courage last night. I have no doubt whatsoever that they prevented that anarchy from spreading and without that courage, many lives may well have been lost,” Mr Baggot said. Loyalist ‘Paster From Hell’ Clifford Peoples was also on the ground taking pictures of police officers and journalists as trouble erupted.
The roly poly paramilatery apologist has spent 10 years behind bars for a string of terrorist convictions and even boasted that he “blessed” bombs and guns used in loyalist terrorist atrocities. But it is Fulton’s arrest that caused the most comment. The South Belfast terror boss was seen mouthing off at riot cops as police tried to force the crowd down Royal Avenue. But once he was snatched from behind loyalist lines, Fulton was a different man. As our exclusive pictures show Fulton didn’t put up any struggle as he was led away. Gone was the bravado as he pleaded with officers to “go easy.” “No need to push,” he bleated, “I’m not resisting arrest, there’s no problem.” The UVF/Protestant Coalition orchestrated the riots in response to an anti-Internment parade which left Belfast city centre like a war zone. The republican parade which was due to pass through Royal Avenue was re-rourted and was subsequently held up and attacked by loyalist bigots at the bottom of the Shankill. Then police pushed the bigots back up the Shankill to allow the anti-Internment parade to pass through. There was over 5,000 republican activists took part in the march, and showed dignity and restrint at the provokacation by loyalist rioters.
Dozens of police officers were injured 56 in total during the protests. 26 plastic baton rounds were fired by police, two water cannons and dogs were deployed during the disorder. Only seven people were arrested and detained on suspicion of offences including riotous behaviour, disorderly behaviour and hijacking and are expected to appear in court later today. Secretary of State Theresa Villers described the violence and attacks on police as “shameful”. She said what had happened was a “hugely regrettable step backwards” after the North of Ireland‘s recent successes at hosting the G8 summit and World Police and Fire Games. The Sunday World now understands that the Orange Order is becoming increasingly concerned at the amount of control exercised by the paramilitaries. Meetings are now planned to discuss a ‘new way’ of securing the future of loyalist parades. The Parades Commission which had given permission for six loyalist protests ( even though they were not passing any loyalist areas) against the republican parade will now reveiw their decision as police struggled to maintain order. A further concern is that police resources are being stretched to the limit. One officer speaking to the Sunday World said he had two days off since the start of December.
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