Northern Ireland news

Silent LCC criticised amid loyalist attacks

Forensic officers at the scene in Moyne Gardens. Picture by Mal McCann

A body that represents the views of loyalist paramilitaries has been criticised for their silence after loyalists have been linked to a weekend of attacks in north Down and a major drugs seizure in east Belfast.

Police are investigating a link between attacks in Newtownards and Bangor over the weekend, with Ulster Unionist MLA and Policing Board member Mike Nesbitt suggesting the South East Antrim UDA are responsible.

On Saturday, officers seized class A drugs with an estimated value of more than £100,000 along with £30,000 in cash after a car was stopped on Montgomery Road in east Belfast.

Read More: Petrol and pipe bomb attacks part of feud between UDA drugs gangs, police say

A spokesman for the PSNI said the "operation demonstrates the continuing commitment of the Paramilitary Crime Task Force to protecting communities and dismantling the supply of illegal drugs linked to East Belfast UVF".

James Thomas McGrogan (36) from Ardenelee Drive in Belfast, appeared in court on Monday charged with a number of drugs offences and possessing criminal property.

The Loyalist Communities Council (LCC) is an umbrella group that represents the views of the UVF, UlDA and Red Hand Commando.


The smashed window of a property in the Moyne Gardens area of Newtownards (Liam McBurney/PA)


The group's chairman, David Campbell, did not respond when contacted by The Irish News about the latest incidents.

Green Party councillor Brian Smyth questioned what value they were bringing to the table, when paramilitary groups still seemed out of control.

"We know there is a serious drug problem in this city, and a lot of it is down to the East Belfast UVF and their role in it," he said.

"They're killing their own communities, they're harming their own communities. What for, just for some of them to get extremely rich and profit? It's a tragedy."

He added: "Everyone including the PSNI is calling the East Belfast UVF a drugs gang. But when it comes to LCC, I would ask what do they even do or bring to the table?

"They need to be clear here on what sort of role they have with loyalist communities. People want paramilitaries to end."

Ulster Unionist MLA Mike Nesbitt, a member of the Policing Board, appealed for calm after the attacks in north Down.

They included petrol bomb attacks on houses in Newtownards and Bangor.

A man in his 60s was injured in the latest incident on Sunday night in Ards after a house on Moyne Gardens was attacked.

Police said that around 10am, a brick was thrown through a front window before two petrol bombs were thrown inside, causing damage to the window ledge, roof and floor.

Bricks were also thrown through an upstairs window and kitchen window, with damage also caused to a car parked outside.

On Saturday, a house on Dicksonia Drive in Newtownards was targeted around 10.15pm, with PSNI officers and firefighters attending the scene.

A number of windows were broken and extensive damage was caused to the front door of the property, with no one inside at the time.

Police are treating it as arson with intent to endanger life.

In Bangor, there was another petrol bomb attack on a house in the early hours of Saturday in the Skipperstone Road area.

Three people were inside at the time but were not injured, but a number of windows were broken and scorch damage was caused to the property.

This is also being treated as arson with intent to endanger life.

Police are investigating the incident as arson with intent to endanger life.

Speaking to the Irish News, Mr Nesbitt said: "What I understand is there has been a falling out within the South East Antrim UDA, and there's a long history of that.

"All I would say is that it does a great disservice to loyalism, to the town of Newtownards and to Northern Ireland's national reputation.

He added: "This is 25 years after the Good Friday Agreement and 29 after the ceasefires, why are they still here?

"Newtownards is the seventh largest town in Northern Ireland and we seem to have the absolute alphabet soup of loyalist terrorists/organised crime gangs.

"While they may have some support in the town, the huge majority don't want them, don't want to be living approximate to them.

"They also don't want the potential of becoming collateral damage as they play out whatever longstanding grievances they may have amongst themselves."

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