Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 December 2014

The Liverpool UVF duo who used Orange lodges to cloak their activities

A picture of armed men in Belfast recovered from the computers of John Irwin and Roy Barwise

Jailed: UVF members John Irwin (left) and Roy Barwise

Jailed: UVF members John Irwin (left) and Roy Barwise





BY PAT HURST

TWO Merseyside men used Orange lodges as a "cloak" to cover terrorist activities linked to the UVF, a court heard yesterday.

Roy Barwise (47), and John Irwin (43), became respected and senior members of the terrorist group's Liverpool Battalion.

Father-of-two Barwise, from Liverpool, was jailed for four years and two months, for being a member of a terror group, the UVF, and for nine offences linked to firearms.

Irwin, a builder and father-of-one from Norris Green, was jailed for two-and-a-half years after admitting membership of the UVF.

Both were hard-working family men and former members of the Territorial Army, Manchester Crown Court heard.

They both became involved in one of the 50 Orange Lodges on Merseyside and both were members of the Liverpool Volunteers Flute Band, based at the Derry Club in Everton. It was described as an "inner sanctum" decked out in banners honouring the UVF.

David Turner QC, prosecuting, said it was not surprising because of the strong connection between Liverpool and Ireland, the UVF had supporters outside Ulster on Merseyside.

He added: "The evidence suggests that the activities of the highly illegal UVF have been concealed by the lawful activity of Protestant Unionism which operates under the banner of the Loyal Orange Lodges in Liverpool.

"Orange parades still take place during the summer marching season in Liverpool and the Battle of the Boyne is commemorated on the 12th July with the Orange Lodges marching throughout the city with drums beating. We suggest this activity of marching bands has been used as a cloak by the UVF in Liverpool."

Police were first alerted to the Liverpool UVF while carrying out investigations on attacks on Johnny Adair and his associates in Bolton.

Adair had to flee Belfast after loyalist in-fighting and settled in Bolton, 20 miles from Liverpool.

There was subsequently a gun attack on his home and a failed car bomb attack on one of his close associates.

Barwise and Irwin's homes were raided following the examination of firearms and ammunition found at the property of Alan Clair.

Clair was jailed for eight years in 2004 after pleading guilty to possessing articles for a purpose connected with terrorism. A charge of UVF membership was ordered to lie on file.

At Barwise's home officers found thousands of rounds of ammunition, British Army flares and explosives. Following investigations, it was suspected that Barwise and Irwin were supplying Clair with firearms and ammunition.

Barwise's fingerprints were found on an ammunition box recovered from Clair's address.

Photos of men in paramilitary regalia displaying weapons and taking part in a parade were also recovered from Barwise's home.

One image depicted a gun recovered from the home of Clair.

Irwin's DNA was found on another gun recovered from Clair's house. Photographs of UVF murals and paramilitary images and moving footage were recovered from his computer. Irwin faced no firearms charges but pleaded guilty to being a UVF member.

The court heard he quit the TA at the time of the Good Friday agreement in 1998, that membership of the local Orange Lodge was a family tradition and that his sympathies led to him becoming a member of the UVF's Liverpool Battalion in 1999.

The court was shown a video of loyalists marching near Belfast.

On a mural on the side of a house under a painting of Sir Edward Carson was the name of Lee Irwin, the defendant's son, who died of cancer aged 16.

The name on the mural represented a "military honour" to the father, and signified his rank within the UVF, the court heard.

A second video showed a locked room inside the Derry Club in Liverpool with its walls covered with UVF paraphernalia.

Both men's lawyers said there was no evidence that either had encouraged or supported acts of terrorism above simply being members of the organisation.

Jailing both men, Judge Bateson said: "It's true events in Northern Ireland are quieter than they used to be, but events are not so quiet that the courts can take anything other than a very serious view of firearms offences and membership of a proscribed organisation."

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