Observer: Nazi Roots Of Loyalist Thugs

red-rebel red-rebel at SPAMsupanet.com
Mon Aug 28 04:42:40 MDT 2000


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REVEALED: NAZI ROOTS OF THUGS WHO THREATEN PEACE
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A fiercely loyal gang of former skinheads has evolved into the most feared
band of assassins in Northern Ireland

THE OBSERVER
UK News
Sunday, 27 August 2000
http://www.observer.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,6903,359734,00.html
Henry McDonald

In 1980 THEY were just a gang of neo-Nazi skinheads who spent their time
disrupting concerts by the Specials and the Beat or breaking up anti-racist
punk gigs in Belfast.

They followed Offensive Weapon, a band modelled on British Nazi-skins
groups. They wore 'Hang Nelson Mandela' T-shirts and gave pro-Hitler press
interviews saying that he should have 'gassed the Taigs (a pejorative word
for Catholics) as well'.

Twenty-years later these 30 to 40 young loyalists, who formed the core of
the now defunct National Front branch in Belfast, are now the cadre of
Johnny Adair's C company of the Ulster Freedom Fighters - the assassination
arm of the Ulster Defence Association.

These men, who are at the centre of the current Ulster loyalist feud that
has claimed three lives, have been ferociously loyal to each other over the
last two decades. They went to school together, they fought running street
battles with Catholic Skin head gangs, they were inducted into the UDA
around the same time in the Eighties and they plotted and killed in the
Nineties.

The old Shankill skinhead alterkämpfen (old comrades) include Sam 'Scally'
McCrory who was imprisoned for terrorism and met Mo Mowlam, then Northern
Ireland Secretary, during her visit to the the Maze in 1998 to beg the UDA
to stop killing Catholics. McCrory has 'White power' tattooed on his right
hand.

Several of C company's main killers were also in the skinhead gang. Another
is a young loyalist nicknamed Top Gun because of his involvement in scores
of sectarian murders. One of the armed and masked UFF men who stopped cars
at a televised terrorist checkpoint a fortnight ago was a former NF
skinhead and a close friend of Adair. Adair himself was a member of the NF
Skinz, who graduated from soccer hooliganism to terrorism.

A senior RUC officer has watched C company's trajectory from skinheads to
sectarian assassins: 'The community on the Shankill is reaping what they
sow. These boys were once just an ordinary gang of thugs who were then
elevated into defenders of the people. Now they are turning on their own
people.

'They are not just motivated by drugs, that's facile. Intelligent drug
dealers don't draw attention to themselves by going to armed displays and
starting feuds with the UVF. These people are fanatical loyalists who want
the war to start again.'

Even with their leader back in prison this weekend, the police officer said
this closely knit group still has the capability to cause mayhem and
sectarian carnage on the streets of Greater Belfast.

Their stronghold is the Lower Shankill estate, a maze of publicly owned
houses close to the nationalist Unity Flats and Antrim Road. Unemployment
is high, educational achievement low. The drabness of the estate is lit up
by the large number of paramilitary murals dedicated to C company's
exploits as well as red, white and blue paving stones and flags of the UDA.

When the inter-loyalist violence erupted on the Shankill Road last
Saturday, C company's first move was to 'cleanse' their base of any
supporters of the rival Ulster Volunteer Force.

Thirty-six families were forced out; some of whose homes were torched and
vandalised. Some of the families were targeted because their sons played in
the Shankill Protestant Boys, a flute band with UVF connections. By the
middle of last week anyone with even a tentative link to the UVF had been
forcibly expelled from the Lower Shankill estate.

Agnes Street links the Shankill with the Crumlin Road where UFF member
Jackie Coulter and former loyalist activist Bobby Mahood were killed on
Monday. For Shankill residents the street has become the dividing line
between the two halves of their community. The Lower Shankill is now a
UFF/UDA-controlled zone, the middle Shankill Road is a UVF dominated
sector.

Throughout last week Chris McGimpsey, an Ulster Unionist councillor for the
area and an ally of his party leader David Trimble, worked around the clock
to re-house the 36 families forced out by the UFF. Up until last Friday his
office, which is equidistant from the UVF and UDA headquarters on the
Shankill, was packed with displaced, anxious men, women and children
seeking new homes.

Today's C company are second generation loyalists who followed the example
of men such as John White, the chairman of the UDA's political wing, the
Ulster Democratic Party. White was jailed for a double murder in the
Seventies and on his release in 1991 became a hero to younger loyalists
like Adair.

White supports the Good Friday Agreement but many of the young men he
inspired to join the UFF are sceptical about the peace process believing it
is loaded in favour of republicanism.

The UDP has lost the political argument with influential UDA/UFF units like
C company, which are bound together solely by a visceral hatred of all
Catholics and nationalists.

Large sections of the British and Irish media have sought to portray the
feud as nothing more than a squalid turf war over drugs, criminal rackets
and territory. But these are secondary factors. The most important
antecedent of the current slaughter is the sharp division between pro- and
anti-Agreement wings of violent loyalism. The Ulster Volunteer Force is the
oldest of the loyalist terror groups. It is descended from Sir Edward
Carson's private army founded in 1912 to resist Home Rule for Ireland. Its
present leadership has been in place for more than 20 years and is
organised along strict centrist lines, whereas the UDA is run by collective
leadership with individual brigadiers who are given considerable freedom to
do what they like.

The UVF's political representatives, the Progressive Unionist Party, has
some of the most articulate loyalists in its ranks. David Ervine and Billy
Hutchinson, both members of the Northern Ireland Assembly, are household
names in both parts of Ireland. Their political analysis is that unionists
and loyalists should work the Agreement for their benefit, that the peace
deal is predicted on the principle that Northern Ireland cannot leave the
UK without the consent of its people.

The present feud follows the pattern of earlier UVF-UDA conflicts. In the
mid 1970s there were two vicious feuds at a time of constitutional
uncertainty and change. One organisation, the UVF, looked for a political
way forward reaching out for compromise with republicans and nationalists.
The other sought to gain hegemony within the Protestant community by
becoming more sectarian and belligerent and by painting the UVF as
crypto-communists and 'Fenian lovers'.

What is really occurring on the narrow streets off the Shankill Road this
weekend is a struggle for the future of Ulster loyalism. One section of the
UDA in Protestant West Belfast is sliding inexorably back to wider conflict
with Irish nationalists as well as their fellow loyalists.

The UVF, however, wants no part in renewed sectarian warfare although it
claims it has no choice but to stand and fight rival loyalists for its
survival.

Most disturbing of all is the third generation of junior UFF members, the
Ulster Young Militants, who were behind many of the attacks on UVF homes in
the Lower Shankill last weekend.

According to born-again Christian Pastor Jack McKee, the UFF and to a
lesser degree the UVF have been recruiting hundreds of teenagers from the
area, preparing them for war when Northern Ireland is meant to be at peace.

In some schools, McKee said, members of the rival loyalist youth wings have
to be let out of different gates at the end of the school day to avoid
clashes.

Many of the UYM were wearing T-shirts glorifying Adair and C company along
the Shankill over the last week. Beneath pictures of Adair and a row of
masked men brandishing machine guns and Kalashnikov rifles were the words:
'C company, simply the best'.

Who would have thought that the skinhead gang that ran amok at a Specials
concert in the Ulster Hall 20 years ago, chasing ska fans including this
writer into the back stage, would evolve into a small but ruthless
terrorist unit capable of threatening 10 years of talks, peace deals and
historic compromises?

Copyright Guardian Media Group plc. 2000

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