Alleged UVF chief Stephen ‘Mackers’ misses out on call-up to 50-year celebration for terror group and its sister organisation at Raven in two weeks time
ALLEGED UVF chief Stephen Matthews has been snubbed over a 50-year ‘celebration’ of the terrorist group.
Plans have been laid for a half century celebration in an East Belfast social club at the end of this month with a host of paramilitary veterans expected to attend. The event is the brainchild of a Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) veteran in partnership with a long standing representative of its sister organisation the Red Hand Commando (RHC). Matthews, who denies membership of the UVF or any involvement in crime, has been described as the East Belfast Brigadier of the terror group. His position has been seen unassailable, according to sources, but in recent months his authority has been questioned and there is increased speculation about his future. The fact he has been left off the guest list for such a high profile UVF event will raise eyebrows and cast an even longer shadow over his leadership.
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The event at the Raven Social Club is billed as “50 Years East Belfast Ulster Volunteer Force & Red Hand Commandos Hand Commando” and will run from 2pm – 5pm on July 25th with memorabilia from the conflict on show as well as artefacts from Long Kesh. A flute band will put on a performance and organisers have warned that while the bar will be open, people will need to observe social distancing protocols. But it is the Matthews snub that will further heighten speculation about his position. The organisation has come under pressure since the murder in January 2019 of prominent loyalist Ian Ogle. A number of people have been charged in relation to Mr Ogle’s death, his death sparked unprecedented public criticism of the leadership. The decision in recent weeks to stand down long time close associate and second in command of the East Belfast UVF Dee McConnell coupled with Matthews’ decision to move out of the UVF heartland in Belfast has only added to the instability.
He currently lives on the outskirts of the city and metaphorically a million miles from his one time power base. There is also mounting speculation that having been recently married he is looking for a new life. A regular visitor to Benidorm, where he has a caravan, people believe he may be ready to cash in his chips and settle for life in the sun.
“The UVF of the Troubles was a different organisation to what it became under Matthews”
One well placed source told the Sunday World this week that outspoken opposition to the UVF is unprecedented. “You would never have heard a word about Mackers, but now people are openly hostile to the UVF which makes the celebration at the Raven all the more ironic,” he said.
“The UVF of the Troubles was a different organisation to what it became under Matthews, back in the day it commanded huge respect as defenders of the loyalist community, under him it became a crime gang.” Matthews earned a reputation as an uncompromising crime boss. He demanded unstinting loyalty as his organisation controlled drug and extortion rackets in the east of the city. Another reason he has seen the writing on the wall is increased attention from the Paramilitary Crime Task Force (PCTF) and impending legislation granting increased powers for the seizure of property and assets perceived to be the assets of crime.
“Mackers is low key, but some of those below him have flaunted their cars and jewellery, he knows it’s only a matter of time,” said our source. A senior security source once described Matthews to the Sunday World as one of the most dangerous crime bosses in the North of Ireland. He has become a priority for the security services and remains – despite questions over his leadership, as a major crime figure. “The fact he has not been invited to this do in The Raven is an indication as to how far his star has fallen, don’t be mistaken he is still the boss but he is facing a power struggle.” The Sunday World understands there have been a series of meetings involving senior UVF figures with the leadership high on the agenda.
With McConnell gone Matthews has been left vulnerable. We are aware a sizeable faction of UVF men have thrown their weight behind a one time senior UVF figure seen as a potential candidate to seize control of the organisation. Last night a spokesperson for Mr Matthews said: “Once again it appears that there is a deliberate effort to create disharmony within the loyalist community, and to place a focus on Mr Matthews. “This is a non-story, with no basis in fact or reality, which is being contrived by anonymous sources seeking to undermine the positive work ongoing within East Belfast. Mr Matthews denies any allegations of involvement in any criminality and/or membership of any proscribed organisation.”
With many thanks to the: Sunday World and Richard Sullivan for the EXCLUSIVE original story
Loyalist museum cuRATOR IN ASTONISHING ATTACK ON on east BELFAST UVF AS COPS LAUNCH DRUG RAIDS ON CRIMINAL gang
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”.
UVF HISTORIAN SLAMS SECTARIAN TERROR GROUP FOR THE TORTURE OF PROTESTANTS AND TELLS THEM: YOU’RE COKE DEALING THUGS’
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?”
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.
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