Loyalist umbrella group urged to break silence on spate of street violence
THE BODY that purports to represent the UVF, UDA and Red Hand Commando was last night challenged to break its silence on the recent spate of loyalist street violence.
The Loyalist Communities Council (LCC), which last month announced that the paramilitary groups it speaks for had withdrawn support for the Good Friday Agreement, has yet to make a public statement about rioting in Belfast, Derry and Co Antrim.
The group's spokesman is David Campbell, a former chairman of the Ulster Unionist Party.
Last night, former UUP leader Mike Nesbitt, whose first act on taking up the role in 2012 was to stand down Mr Campbell, said despite consecutive nights of rioting, there was "not a syllable from the LCC".
The Strangford MLA questioned whether the umbrella group actually spoke on behalf of those it claims to represent.
Mr Nesbitt's comments came as it emerged that five police officers were injured during disturbances on Sunday night in Newtownabbey, an area which is said to be controlled by the South Antrim UDA, a group that does not come under the LCC banner.
"I think the LCC are conspicuous in their silence over the weekend and if anybody should be coming out and explaining themselves it's David Campbell," he said.
"I want to hear what they think about the violence; I want to hear them make a plea for it to end; I want to hear them say that they will use their influence to stop it."
The UUP MLA said he was "personally confused" about what was motivating those involved.
"I don't whether it's the Public Prosecution Service statement (on the Bobby Storey) or the protocol, or both or neither – the LCC might have a better handle on it than I do – they certainly should have," he said.
"We've had three nights of violence and not a syllable from the LCC. That does nothing to suggest to me that the LCC is what its title suggests it is."
SDLP policing spokesperson Dolores Kelly called on the LCC make a statement about the recent violence.
"There's definitely a gap to be filled because at the moment nobody is showing these young people any leadership," she said.
"They need to demonstrate a level of responsibility – they owe it to the memory of David Ervine, who was wise to the manner in which loyalism can be whipped up."
The Irish News contacted Mr Campbell but he did not respond.