FEARS MOUNT THAT ALL-OUT WAR IS ABOUT TO ERUPT BETWEEN TERROR GROUP’S NORTH ANTRIM FACTIONS AFTER SPATE OF VIOLENT INCIDENTS
POLICE are on high alert as a bitter UDA internal feud looks set to explode.
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Last week the PSNI/RUC dealt with two separate security alerts after fears two rival North Antrim factions were set to go head-to-head with guns and explosives.
On Sunday, a Ballymoney hotel was targeted in a hoax bomb call while punters, including families, were packed inside. Police claimed to have received “low-grade intelligence” that a device had been left on the premises, but within a short space of time determined the tip-off to be false. Two days later, a small pub in the nearby village of Dervock was the subject of a major police operation over false claims that terror weapons and bombs were being stored inside. A number of loyalists have also been formally warned by police that their lives are in danger. There are now genuine fears the simmering feud is about to turn bloody. Tensions peaked after one of the village’s bands, Dervock Young Defenders (DYD), officially aligned itself with West Belfast UDA for the first time.
On Monday, July 13th, DYD Flute Band took to the streets for the Twelfth celebrations wearing T-shirts emblazoned with the notorious West Belfast UFF paramilitary badge. The band marched through Ballymoney – a town aligned with North Antrim UDA – led by a man carrying a sinister UFF flag – a loyalist killing machine responsible for countless sectarian murders. Pictures and videos of the terror display – which was in blatant breach of the Terrorism Act – were posted on social media. The militant message angered North Antrim bosses who saw it as the biggest sign yet that Shankill UDA bosses are still making moves to muscle in on their turf.
Last month the Sunday World revealed how the UDA brigade in Ballymoney – whose members have previously maimed and murdered drug dealers – believe its Belfast HQ want to put narco teams onto the streets in North Antrim. The Shankill goons are on a money-making mission after expanding their drug supply network to satellite areas outside of its West Belfast stronghold. Tigers Bay, Newtownards and even parts of Bangor have been overtaken by the ‘D’ Company paramafia pushers who have set their sights on “unspoilt” areas within North Antrim.
Ballymoney, Bushmills and surrounding rural areas have remained relatively drug dealer free over the last eight years, with loyalists attacking – and even killing – those suspected of being involved in the trade. Recent Paramilitary Crime Task Force (PCTF) operations against West Belfast UDA have put a huge dent in the Shankill unit’s pockets. The constant raids have forced the loyalist drug gang’s new boss to eye up areas outside of its usual criminal network. Sources within the Dervock area say they fear the tiny village is now in the frame to be used as a potential “satellite” base which would give the gang access to a “gold coast” for death pushers. “The very fact that one of our own bands is openly supporting the Shankill has worried everyone in the area,” one resident told the Sunday World. “We don’t want a drug dealing gang having any influence in this area.” Last week a local newspaper reported how a collective of voluntary and statutory agencies in the Co Antrim village had come together to combat “organised crime and drug dealing/substance misuse”.
One of those, Dervock and District Community Association, said in a statement it had been forced to make a “public announcement” on the levels of “illegal and prescription drugs” within the area. “These are being pumped into the village from outside sources within North Antrim,” the statement in the Ballymoney Chronicle said. “This issue is not going away unless we show a united front and isolate these individuals and report all drug related and other illegal activities to the authorities. “These ‘Peddlers’ masquerading as ‘activists’ are deliberately preying on the most vulnerable individuals in our society. “Over the last month there have been several families within the village that have had children and parents split by statutory agencies – due to alcohol and substance abuse.” The statement then listed off a number of agencies, organisations and groups which it said supported its call.
A Co Antrim Orange lodge was also included in the statement, as well as a local primary school. Also named was Dervock Young Defenders Flute Band, which just the week before openly supported West Belfast UDA – a faction targeted regularly by the PSNI/RUC over its drug dealing activities. Sources say the inclusion of the band following its public support of the criminal paramilitary gang “made a mockery” of the message. It led to senior staff of the school named contacting community reps and demanding that no future reference to the primary be made alongside anyone associating itself with a terror group.
A well-placed source said: “Of course the school and its staff support the fight against drugs, but it will not be aligned with anyone who supports a terror organisation, especially one that is known to deal in drugs. “To be honest, people in the area are confused at how members of a band, who openly endorse the Shankill, could be taken seriously in any anti-drugs message.” The Sunday World contacted a representative of Dervock and District Community Association over the concerns raised. The spokesman declined to comment. DYD Flute Band was also contacted for comment over its Twelfth endorsement of the Shankill UFF. No one responded to our query. The Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland was also contacted, but did not respond to requests for comment. The PSNI/RUC confirmed it carried out a search at licensed premises in the Dervock area on Tuesday, July 21st. “Nothing was found,” the spokesperson confirmed. They added: “A search was also carried out at another licensed premises in Ballymoney on July 19th and nothing was found.”
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