Gary Haggarty case could 'destabilise' the UVF

Former UVF commander in east Antrim Gary Haggarty who has turned supergrass
Connla Young

MEMBERS of the UVF believe that any attempt to target senior figures as part of the Gary Haggarty supergrass case could “destabilise” the paramilitary group.

Dr Aaron Edwards, who recently penned a new book on the history of the UVF, said that some members believe that the on-going investigation could place the group on shaky ground.

His comments come just days after Haggarty pleaded guilty to 200 charges, including five counts of murder, in a Belfast court.

In his book UVF: Behind the Mask, Dr Edwards reveals that he interviewed Haggarty, before he was revealed as an informer, as part of his research.

Speaking ahead of the book’s official launch in Belfast tonight Dr Edwards, a senior lecturer in defence and international affairs at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, said some current UVF members see part of their role as providing stability to the group.

“They would suggest there is an outside chance the leadership is brought into this prosecution and they could destabilise things,” he said.

A former member of the UVF’s notorious Mount Vernon unit in north Belfast, Haggarty joined the paramilitary group in 1991 and was exposed as a police informer.

He was later appointed as the organisation’s commander in the east Antrim area, an area that witnessed dozens of sectarian murders during the Troubles.

Arrested in 2009 he later agreed to give evidence against his former colleagues.

Dr Edwards said the book explores the role played by senior loyalists like former PUP leader David Ervine and UVF commander Billy Mitchell, who have both since died, in bringing an end to violence.

UVF: Behind the Mask will officially launched in the No Alibis Bookstore, 83 Botanic Avenue, Belfast, at 6.30pm this evening.


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