Suspected UVF boss Matthews boots out 10 for drug dealing as he fights to Shore (Road) up in his East Belfast power base

ALLEGED UVF chief Stephen ‘Mackers’ Matthews has issued a rallying war cry “I’m not going anywhere”, a source has claimed.

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The suspected crime boss has moved to reassert his control of the UVF East Belfast UVF amid increasing speculation of him being ousted and rumours that he was considering standing down, according to sources. The Sunday World can reveal he has moved to dispel any doubts about his intentions. Matthews’ grip on his organised crime empire is said to have been shipping, where once he controlled things with an iron grip and sometimes employing ruthless methods. A number of factions had been plotting a takeover and it was thought Matthews, who denies involvement in crime, was losing appetite for the fight. A source has claimed his position was further weakened when he moved out of the UVF heartland of the lower Newtownards Road and set up home in an estate on the outskirts of the city.


It is claimed that following an internal investigation he ordered a purge of drug dealers. It had been believed he sanctioned the dismissal of three dealers but the Sunday World now understands up to 10 people were expelled from the organisation for dealing behind his back. Casualties include his close pal and very good friend of Jamie Bryson and second in command of the East Belfast UVF David ‘Dee’ McConnell, who was accused of putting his hands in the till. According to sources in the east of the city, Matthews had taken his eye off the ball and was losing control of the organisation. We can reveal that he called a batallion meeting and demanded complete loyalty. He warned company commanders he was intent on ‘cleaning up’ the organisation and that everyone would be accountable to him.

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“He asked his commanders for their support, and he got It,” a well informed source told us. “He said if there was anyone who could not back him for whatever reason they were free to leave – no one did.” McConnell (Jamie Bryson’s UVF sidekick) was immediately stood down and despite speculation he was ordered out of the country, he has been allowed to remain in East Belfast – but no longer has the protection of the UVF. In the weeks since his expulsion he has been spending time in Scotland, having been spotted in Ayr where his partner now lives having just had a baby. McConnell (pictured below), for years a constant and loyal sidekick to Matthews, has been forced out after he was accused of dipping his hands in the till at his beloved loyalist football club East Belfast FC.

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The Sunday World understands there’s a hole in the finances at the club and is believed to involve the club’s share of the gate from a money-spinning County Antrim Shield clash with Irish League Champions Linfield. It was a dream draw for the amateur league club, as the teams split the revenue, which would be pennies from heaven for a club outside the top two leagues and who are more used to playing in front of a handful of spectators. Staged at the National Stadium Windsor Park last November the match put East Belfast in the media spotlight with team manager Matthews prowling the touchline with the Blues running out 5-1 winners. Football mad McConnell was also in the dugout. The pair have been at the head of the club for a number of years, overseeing it’s transformation from also-rans into a highly successful amateur league outfit. There are numerous social media pictures of a beaming McConnell beside his mentor in East Belfast FC tracksuits. But convicted druggie McConnell, who once spent £10,000 on a set of veneers for his teeth, couldn’t resist pilfering the gate money. He and another man, also close to Matthews, have been accused and ‘convicted’ of nicking the money.

Davy McConnell UVF ex-second in command in East Belfast

It is unclear as to the amount of cash involved but is thought to run into thousands. His co-accused has been allowed to remain in Belfast because of his closeness to the Matthews family. Mackers is said to be furious and ‘let down’ by the turn of events, especially from sidekick McConnell. Dee’s position had been seen as unassailable. Towards the end of last year and the beginning of 2020 the pair seemed as tight as ever. They both attended a high profile public meeting at the Con Club in East Belfast in protest at the ‘betrayal deal’ which sees the North of Ireland retaining EU trading rules in the wake of Brexit.

Official spokesman for the East Belfast UVF. And PUL spokesman Although he pretends he was never a member of the UVF 🤣🤣🤣

He also reacted angrily to a series of Paramilitary Crime Task Force raids on a number of homes, including his own, accusing the authorities of targeting and demonizing the loyalist community. In recent months cracks have appeared in the leadership structure with increased speculation about Matthews’ intentions. There was some speculation the recently married crime boss was considering stepping back and considering leaving the country. All of which has been put to bed.


The Sunday World understands there were at least two factions vying for control in the east of the city. According to sources, Matthews is hopeful that by reasserting his control he will see off any threat to his leadership. McConnell was botted out in May following an internal investigation which resulted in him being accused of pocketing cash from the organisation’s lucrative drug rackets. Three UVF drug dealers were expelled for not paying their dues and when it emerged McConnell had been pocketing the cash it sparked a further investigation into the missing football money.

If Jamie Bryson was not a member of the UVF then why is he pictured here?

McConnell oversaw the drug operation when it emerged his foot soldiers were dealing on the side the writing was on the wall. “This is huge move that has not gone down very well at All,” one loyalist source said in May. “Dee considered himself untouchable, so much so that a few of his former comrades claim he was doing business behind his best pal’s back. “A lot of things can be forgiven in the paramilitary world, but when someone is thought to be sneakily challenging the leadership and making their own moves to make cash, it is simply not tolerated. And he warned it would result in splits in the organisation. On top of inside pressure, the gang lost a six figure sum of cash and drugs in a series of police raids which brought the missing football cash into sharper focus.

“Mackers is now convinced Dee has been stitching him up for years, the only way back for Dee is if Mackers either stands down or leaves,” said our source. On Saturday night August 8th a spokesman for Matthews said: “Mr Matthews denies any allegations of criminality and membership of the UVF. “He has no knowledge of the incident as described”

With many thanks to the: Sunday World and Richard Sullivan for the EXCLUSIVE original story 



Members of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)


EAST Belfast UVF have been branded coke-dealing thugs i an astonishing attack by the boss of a UVF museum in the area.

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He hit out as specialist cops busted a suspected drugs ring linked to the gang. Loyalist community worker William McCaughey, curator of a museum dedicated to the UVF, laid into the current paramilitary goons for “torturing” the Protestant people. He accused them of criminality and cocaine dealing saying they should “hang their heads in shame”.  


EAST Belfast UVF has been accused of “torturing the Protestant population” in the heart of East Belfast.

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Respected community worker and UVF historian William McCaughey laid into the current UVF mob who were targeted in yet another anti-drugs sting the weekend last. McCaughey is the curator of the Ballymac Museum which is smack in the heart of what has for years been the heartland of the East Belfast UVF  – making the outspoken dressing down even more unusual. And his brave outburst came as police revealed on Saturday 20th June they had busted a suspected East Belfast UVF drug gang. Officers from the Paramilitary Crime Task Force announced they had searched properties in Dundonald and believe drugs and cash found were linked to the East Belfast UVF. A 40-year-old man has been charged with drug offences and two women were reported to the PPS. The Sunday World understands the raid is highly significant and is closely linked to one of the terror group’s top bosses. A top cop said afterwards the local community “utterly supports” their efforts to disrupt East Belfast UVF. Detective Inspector Hamilton said: “Paramilitaries are not defenders of their communities, instead they are criminals who pretty on vulnerable people and exploit any circumstances they can for their own gain.”


And during a five-minute video posted on the Ballymac Friendship Centre’s Facebook page this week, William McCaughey (49) describes the current East Belfast UVF in less flattering terms. The clip entitled ‘Ballymac Museum Tour Part 3’ sees William, who’s listed in the credits as curator of the museum, complete his tour of the museum which largely includes artefacts collected from the Troubles. Having shown us various weapons and trinkets made in Long Kesh prison by UVF prisoners like David Ervine and Gusty Spence, he out-of-the-blue lets rip at the present day UVF. While a music box, made in Long Kesh, plays in the background he says: “It’s usually at this stage of the tour people ask me what has the East Belfast UVF got to do with the museum and my answer has to be, absolutely nothing. “Why? What has cocaine [word inedible], criminality, hiking of bills and general torture of the Protestant population, what’s that got to do with all this rich history?”

Snorting cocaine

But he doesn’t stop his impassioned speech there and even tells the current East Belfast UVF criminal element they should be ashamed. He continues: “Why use them three letters [UVF] and live on the backs of the people in this museum  – the Ulstermen who have defended their wee part of Ulster for hundreds of years? “Hang your heads in shame!” The video was uploaded to the museum’s Facebook page on Monday 15th June and seems to have been done to coincide with the 22nd anniversary of the murder of local UVF hero Robert ‘Squeak’ Seymour. McCaughey adds: “And from a time when East Belfast UVF were the ‘People’s Army’ – Volunteer Robert Squeak Seymour 15th June 1988.” Seymour became a UVF legend during the Troubles for murdering senior IRA man James ‘Skipper’ Burns, for which he was convicted of killing in 1981, though he was later cleared on appeal as he’d been convicted on ‘supergrass’ testimony. Until 2011, Seymour’s image featured on a mural on a gable in the nearby Ballymacarrett Road.

A late 2011 UVF mural, on Ballymacarrett Road in East Belfast. The four members named are Robert Seymour, shot dead by the PIRA; James Cordner and Joseph Long, who were both killed in a premature explosion, and Robert Bennett, killed by the British Army during a riot. These same four are commemorated in the controversial 2013 mural featured in: Follow this link to find out more: https://extramuralactivity.com/2013/12/23/years-of-sacrifice/

Until 2011, Seymour’s image featured on a mural on a gable wall in the nearby Ballymacarrett Road

McCaughey’s sideswipe is being supported by many loyalists. This paper has written extensively about paramilitary drug lords in East Belfast UVF. Many of the old UVF guard have been reported to be ashamed of the actions of the current crop of paramilitary leaders. The Sunday World asked Mr McCaughey for a comment on his statement but we were told by the centre: “Unfortunately at this time William is unavailable for comment.” Sources in East Belfast say the outburst from the community worker, who was until recently was listed as a director of the Ballymac Friendship Centre, shows how sections of East Belfast have turned on the current UVF.
And the positive feedback left by supporters of the museum show many people are fed up with East Belfast UVF. The video clip has been viewed over 7,000 times and been shared 83 times and attracted completely positive comments. One person wrote: “Brilliant William, well said and very well concluded.” Another supporter wrote: “Well said you can’t be a true loyalist and a drug dealer.” Another fan commented: “Thank God someone has had the courage to speak out x.” Things have been going wrong for the East Belfast UVF for a few years but those problems have accelerated following the murder of popular community worker Ian Ogle last year. The Ballymac Museum was started after loyalists got fed up with ‘their’ history being told through the eyes of republicans. In 2015 it received just over £200,000 in public funding to have the centre refurbished.

Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF)

A year later Mr McCaughey was quoted in a number of newspaper articles as he gave tours round the new museum, though he was never pictured himself. He said of the UVF memorabilia: “It’s not about glorifying anything, but it’s about the fact you shouldn’t forget about it either, it’s a part of our history here, a part of the history of this area that’s being kept alive. “There’s been Americans in and once they started to realise the conflict here was more complicated that the Irish against British, they were absolutely fasinacinated. It’s also been great for young people in the area who maybe label themselves as loyalist or whatever, but don’t really know what that means. “The history in here helps them understand what their history is. Loyalism, the term, it’s often seen in a bad light, but this is helping show there’s more to it than just the Troubles. It’s a social history and it’s important it’s not forgotten.”

TRYING TO FOOL US: One of the threatening UVF murals in East Belfast. Jamie Bryson unmasked!

A police spokesman said on Saturday June 2oth 2020 of the latest raids targeting the East Belfast UVF: “Following this proactive policing operation a quantity of suspected class A, B and C controlled drugs, cutting agent, bags and scales and a significant amount of cash were seized. “Two women are to be reported to the PPS on suspicion of drugs offences.” Detective Inspector Hamilton said: “We know that the communities most affected utterly support our ongoing efforts and want to work with us to end the harm caused by the criminal activity of paramilitaries.

If Jamie Bryson was not a member of the UVF then why is he pictured here? Reading a statement out on behalf of the East Belfast UVF

” And late on Saturday June 20th 2020, the police confirmed the 40-year-old had been charged “with possession of a class A controlled drug, with intent to supply, possession of a Class B controlled drug, possession of a class C controlled drug and firearms licensing offences,” said a spokesperson. “He is due to appear at Newtownardes Magistrates Court via vidolink on Thursday July 16th 2020. As is normal procedure, all charges are reviewed by the Public Prosecution Service (PPS).”

.With many thanks to the: Sunday World and Steven Moore for the EXCLUSIVE original story  – steven.moore@sundayworld.com 

Follow these links to find out more: https://www.newsletter.co.uk/news/crime/anti-uvf-operation-nets-suspected-drugs-and-cutting-agent-man-charged-narcotics-and-firearms-offences-2890660

(2)-: https://www.belfastlive.co.uk/news/belfast-news/watch-paramilitary-crime-taskforce-raid-18456679

(3)-: http://www.belfastdaily.co.uk/2020/06/20/man-held-over-east-belfast-uvf-drug-dealing-probe/

(4)-: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/amp/uk-northern-ireland-53119053


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