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.
.With many thanks to the: Sunday World and Steven Moore for the EXCLUSIVE original story – firstname.lastname@example.org
PASTOR Barrie Halliday has been charged with intimidation of a witness, the Sunday World has learned.
The controversial cleric was arrested by police at his homeoutside Bessbrook in South Armagh last Friday. Halliday, who is a pastor at the Five Mile Hill Pentecostal Church, was taken to the RUC/PSNI custody suite in Lurgan and questioned about the alleged intimidation of a witness and the misuse of electronic media before being charged. It is understood the alleged new offences relate to a second social media post on June 17th and it follows Halliday’s previous arrest last week when he was also charged.
Halliday – a one-time pal of IRA victims campaigner Willie Frazer – is facing a string of charges after he allegedly made racist remarks on social media. Now he’s been hit with further charges after he posted a second item last Saturday 13th June. The two social media items – which has since been removed from the internet – were posted on a Facebook page once operated by Willie Frazer.
Last night, Halliday confirmed he had been arrested and charged, but he declined to go into any detail. The Pastor also revealed he had declined to any detail. The Pastor also revealed he had been ordered to refrain from using social media or electronic communication. Yesterday Saturday 20th of June the RUC/PSNI said: “A man has been charged with the improper use of public communications and intimidation of a witness. “The 52-year-old man is scheduled to appear before Newry Magistrates Court on July 8th.”
With many to the: Sunday World and Hugh Jordan for the original story
Follow these links to find out more: https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/northern-ireland/pastor-barrie-halliday-charged-after-black-lives-matter-comments-39281524.html
The unlikely love story of Winnie Carney, founder member of Cumann na mBan in Belfast, and Somme veteran George McBride
The writing box given to Rita Murphy, a nurse in the UVF hospital, and passed on to her daughter-in-law Allison Murphy, author Winnie and George: An Unlikely Union
The writing box given to Rita Murphy, a nurse in the UVF hospital, and passed on to her daughter-in-law Allison Murphy, author Winnie and George: An Unlikely Union
When I opened the writing box that warm June evening, I found two pieces of paper inside. One was a brown envelope on which was written in shaky cursive script: George McBride, 3 Whitewell Parade, Whitewell Road, Belfast. My mother-in-law explained that it was her favourite old gentleman’s address. He had lived there for more than 50 years and spent the happiest 15 years of his life in that house with his wife. He had wanted my mother-in-law to have a record of where the box came from.
The second piece of paper was a cutting from an unidentifiable newspaper that had the headline, “UVF pioneer and Somme veteran dies”. The opening paragraph stated: “Somme veteran, George McBride, a member of the old UVF, who married James Connolly’s secretary, has died in the UVF Hospital, Belfast, aged 92”.
While I was struck by the incongruity of a UVF soldier marrying Connolly’s secretary, my mother-in-law was horrified that her friend’s age was incorrectly reported. “He was only 90!” was her response as I read aloud. I should point out that my mother-in-law had no knowledge of history and, in fact, studiously avoided discussing anything related to the past. I was sure she had never heard of James Connolly and the fact that the article stated that George’s wife had been Connolly’s secretary would have been of no relevance to her.
The obituary continued by describing Mr McBride’s war record and his wife’s role in the Easter Rising of 1916. It included the following paragraph: “Speaking from Dublin, Mr McBride’s niece, Mrs Mabel Farrell, said the marriage was a strange alliance for the time and although they argued politics incessantly, they loved each other very much.” My mother-in-law asked me if, when I had the time, I would try to write about George’s life. She wanted him to be remembered by more than an address on an old brown envelope. She knew only that he loved his wife very much, although he told her that many thought it was an unusual marriage. She was emphatic that the story should be told for the general public – people like her – to read.
In 1912 in Belfast lived 24-year-old Winifred Carney and 14-year-old George McBride; she of a Catholic, republican background, he of the Protestant, unionist tradition. Belfast was a regional industrial city much like those in the north of England, but it differed in that it was, at times, polarised by politics and religion. While Belfast prospered, sectarian tensions simmered below the surface and, at times, erupted into bloody conflict. Workers had flocked into the city during the prosperous times, changing the demographics and leading to Catholics becoming one-third of the population.
At the same time, the political scene was changing, as unionism, once led by landed southern Irish unionists, came to be dominated by the industrial leaders and workers of the Ulster region. When it became clear that Home Rule may become a reality, such unionists directed their energies into keeping Ireland in the union with Great Britain and ensuring that power over the industrialised north remained with Westminster.
In the same period, nationalism in Ireland was also becoming more uncompromising, and movements to strengthen cultural nationalism were growing. In March 1912, on the eve of the introduction of the third Home Rule Bill to parliament, the Protestant-dominated Belfast Corporation was emphasising the link between prosperity and the union with Great Britain. Despite economic vitality and industrial prowess, these ominous political developments led to an increasing anxiety pervading the streets of the city.
From this time forward Winnie and George found themselves intimately involved in all the dramatic major events of the decade: the formation of Cumann na mBan and the Young Citizen Volunteers, the Irish Citizen Army and the Ulster Volunteer Force, the Easter Rising and the Battle of the Somme, the War of Independence and the partition of Ireland, the formation of Northern Ireland and the Irish Free State.
Despite these divisive events, Winnie and George met, fell in love and married. This is their story. In 2016 their medals were placed together in Belfast City Hall as a message of reconciliation. They belonged to Shankill Road man George McBride, a member of the Ulster Volunteer Force and a soldier in the 15th Battalion of the 36th Ulster Division which fought at the Somme; and Winifred Carney, a founding member of Belfast’s Cumann na mBan, secretary to James Connolly and his adjutant in the GPO during every minute of the Easter Rising.
With many thanks to: The Irish Times for the original story
Winnie and George: An Unlikely Union (Mercier Press) tells the story of their lives and their love.
Follow these links to find out more: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/4QG9tZP2pwcWCccgKbmSqSV/george-mcbride
THERE’S an old proverb about the road to hell being paved with good intentions.
And friends of mine have occasionally tried to explain away unionism’s vice-like grip on the first 50 years of the North of Ireland by quoting it. They claim the unionist government which oversaw the North of Ireland always planned to do better, but never quite got there. There’s no doubt that in 1921 after the partition of Ireland was complete, unionist leaders had a chance to create a northern state where few Catholics would have opted to join the newly-formed 26 County Free State.
But religious bigotry at the heart of at the heart of the Stormont regime meant that opportunity was passed over. And instead unionism firmly pulled the shutters down tight. It viewed every Catholic citizen with suspicion. Unionist Party leaders ignored the parting advice of Sir Edward Carson – the public face of unionism – to be kind to the minority. And although not publicly acknowledged, some unionist establishment figures even gave the green light to loyalist gunmen to wage a war of attrition against Catholics. Pogroms were terrifying and real, with hundreds losing their lives as the contrived state of the North of Ireland became a political reality. A semi-secret plan was hatched where police officers like the infamous DI Nixon were allowed to run their own murder gangs. Their intention was to grind Catholics into submission and force them to accept that they now lived in a place where only those loyal to Britain ruled the roost. Rejecting unionist offers of top police jobs abroad. Nixon eventually quit the RUC to become an Independent Unionist MP.
And until the day he died, he repeatedly threatened to expose fellow unionist politicians’ involvement in violence at the foundation of the state. Eventually many Catholics accepted their diminished status and kept their heads down. Occasional IRA attacks in the north and in England posed no threat to the northern state. But the 1947 Education Act – forced on unionist by the British government – created an articulate Catholic middle class no longer willing to accept the status quo.
In 1967, along with other interested groups – including the remnants of the Irish Republican Movement – these people formed the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association. The organisation had the stated aim of replacing unionist discrimination in jobs, housing and voting rights with British liberal values. It was well received in Ireland and also in the rest of the UK, where people were shocked to learn that the North of Ireland citizens hadn’t the same rights as them. The North of Ireland Prime Minister Captain Terence O’Neill (who the unionist claimed was a Lundy) – steeped in the unionist landed gentry – knew in his heart that if the union was to survive, then things needed to change. But a rabble-rousing fundamentalist preacher called Ian Paisley – who led his own Free Presbyterian Church – had other ideas. He had an ability to tap into ancient Protestant fears and suspicions. And he helped form a series of new loyalist paramilitary organisations opposed to any reforms proposed by O’Neill. Paisley was following in the footsteps of his close friend and hero DI Nixon, a police officer turned politician who had terrorised Catholics at the foundation of the state. Much of Paisley’s involvement with the reconstituted Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) was denied because the authorities feared the clergyman’s Svengali-like powers. But this week – in the first of a new seven part series of TV programmes to mark the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the Troubles – Paisley’s real role in the violence is exposed.
Spotlight on the Troubles: A Secret History goes out simultaneously on BBC Northern and BBC4 on Tuesday night. Using first-hand testimony of individuals who were around at the time, reporter Darragh McIntyre reveals how Ian Paisley personally financed the UVF bombing of a water pipe line at the Silent Valley Reservoir near Kilkeel in April 1969. Paisley and his cohorts attempted to give the impression that the explosion, coming as it did months before serious violence erupted on the streets of Derry and Belfast, was the work of the practically moribund IRA. But a retired senior British Army officer, drafted in to examine the aftermath of the bomb, told MacIntyre his suspensions were raised as soon as he saw the bomb site. “This just didn’t have the look of an IRA bomb,” he said. And he went on to claim that a senior RUC officer in Killkeel showed him intelligence reports which revealed the entire operation had been financed by Paisley.
As Paisley’s UVF mates were bombing the place, a young butcher’s apprentice by the name of Martin McGuinness was about to quit his job to assume the role of 2nd in Command of the Provisional IRA in Derry.
In newly emerged footage, McGuinness is filmed overseeing an IRA bomb being loaded into the boot of a car. McGuinness sits in the passenger seat and, minutes later, it is transported to Derry city centre and detonated. And in another remarkable clip, McGuinness instructs children on how to load bullets into a revolver.
It is almost beyond belief that 3,500 deaths later, these two men were sworn into office as the First Minister and Deputy First Minister in a new devolved administration at Stormont. But they also became close personal friends.
In an astonishing revelation near the end of the first programme, MacIntyre reveals written details of a top secret report by Sir Michael Carver, the most senior officer in the British Army. In the report, Carver advises the British government to consider an alternative strategy which doesn’t demand maintaining the North of Ireland border by military means, (what Brexit will mean).I.e. British withdrawal.
Spotlight editor Jeremy Adams say he’s proud his talented team of investigative reporters consisting of McIntyre, Jennifer O’Leary and Mandy McAuley, have been able to uncover new findings relating to the history of the Troubles. “This past has shaped our present and it’s vitally important that truths continue to be told,” he said. I’m in no doubt that this body of work from the awarding-winning BBC Spotlight team will become the definitive television history of the Troubles. This series of programmes – which uncovers much previously unknown material – is informative, revealing, shocking and at times very, very moving. It was an enormous undertaking for the reporters and filmmakers involved, but once again, BBC Spotlight comes through with flying colours. Don’t miss it.
Follow these links to find out more: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-11313364
THE son of a Co Tyrone couple who were shot dead by the Mid Ulster UVF is to take legal action after discovering a police notebook, containing his personal details, was in the hands of the same organisation who murdered his parents.
Republican Paddy Fox, whose parents Charlie and Theresa were shot dead by loyalists at their home outside the Moy in 1992, said he was warned by police in 2004 that he might be under threat from loyalists.
However at no stage, he claims, was he told that his details were contained in a PSNI notebook which loyalists had in their possession.
The Irish News has seen the police notebook which contains details of police operations and briefings, along with lists of names, addresses and car registrations.
Person details related to Paddy Fox, whose parents were murdered by the UVF, were contained in the notebook.
Exclusive: PSNI gives private citizens’ data to suspected loyalist paramilitaries
Analysis: PSNI data breach could be ‘biggest security blunder in north’s history’
The book, which appears to be briefing notes from a serving police officer, gives details of Mr Fox’s address and also contains the make and colour of the car he was driving.
Other names on a ‘watch list’ are well known republicans Kevin Barry Murphy, Aidan Grew and Barry Morgan.
All the names are listed with dates of birth, addresses and in some cases car makes and registrations.
It is not known how the notebook found its way into the hands of loyalists.
But it is believed that none of those whose details were in the book were informed of the security breach.
Republican Paddy Fox (pictured above) Mr Fox said: “In the past I have been informed by the police that my details were in the hands of loyalists but at no time was I ever told how they got them.
“It now seems the details were from the very people issuing me the warnings. There needs to be some accountability for this,” he added.
The notebook also details a briefing by now retired former Special Branch officer Alan Mains, the former senior police officer now works as a security consultant.
Included among briefings is one delivered to officers in relation to an attack on Randalstown Police Station.
In October 2004 a family was held hostage by an armed gang who stole their van to mount a drive-by shooting on the Co Antrim police station.
Three children, aged between five and seven, and a couple were held hostage in the house during the incident.
No-one was injured as four shots hit steel gates at the front of the police station.
Details of the attack are in the notebook listing six homes to be searched in the hunt for ‘items weapons munitions explosives, any item that can be of use to terrorists’.
It is the third reported data breach involving the PSNI in the last four months.
In July The Irish News reported that hundreds of pages of data were leaked to loyalist paramilitaries, after equipment seized as part of an investigation into organised crime was returned with a pen drive attached containing information on private individuals and local companies.
Both the Police Ombudsman and the Information Commissioner are investigating the data breach.
In September a police notebook was lost during searches by the Paramilitary Crime Task Force into the activity of the South East Antrim UDA.
It contained information on suspects as well as some personal details relating to the female officer who lost the notebook.
Despite police appeals for the notebook to be returned it has yet to be recovered.
Peter Corrigan of Phoenix Law, which represents a number of those named in the latest breach, said last night: “We will be taking civil action against the PSNI and Chief Constable for this very serious data breach, that potentially resulted in at least one of my clients being told he was under threat from loyalists back in 2004.
“The PSNI had a duty of care to inform those listed in this notebook at the time that they had lost their private details and failed to do so”, he added.
PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Alan Todd last night said police were investigating.
“We have conducted preliminary inquiries but given the timescale involved, we have not been able to confirm the loss or theft of a police notebook from this period or area,” he said.
“Our enquiries are continuing.”
With many thanks to: Allision Morris and The Irish News for the original story.