The UDA was today blamed for the savage tarring and feathering of a Belfast man in an attack reminiscent of the darkest days of the Troubles.
Nationalists and unionists said the grim incident at Taughmonagh in Belfast was provocative given Social Development Minister Margaret Ritchie's threat to withdraw funding from UDA-linked projects.
As this dramatic picture shows, the victim, in his mid-30s was tied to a lamppost before tar and then feathers were poured over his head. The public humiliation happened on Sunday night at Finwood Park.
The Ulster Political Research Group (UPRG) denied it was a UDA punishment attack however SDLP MLA Alban Maginness said: "It is quite clear that it was an element of the UDA which was responsible for this. These things are not done spontaneously by the community. It would seem to be a very provocative act."
The victim is tarred and feathered after being tied to a lamppost
DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson appealed to the UDA to "desist from this kind of activity" and cooperate with legitimate law enforcement agencies. The Lagan Valley MP said he did not believe the incident should lead to Ms Ritchie changing the terms which had been laid down to the UDA.
"We do want to see serious progress being made by that organisation. It is totally unacceptable that people should take the law into their own hands. "
Alliance leader David Ford said: "Whatever denials are issued, I think most people will find it hard to believe that the UDA was not involved in this horrific crime. The Minister will obviously have to take into serious account incidents such as this in addressing funding to UDA-linked projects."
Colin Halliday, of the UPRG, which provides political analysis to the UDA, said: "It was not a UDA punishment attack. The community demanded something be done."
A DSD spokesman said the Minister had made clear she would be monitoring the level of UDA activity with the police and the Independent Monitoring Commission. A police spokesman said when they arrived on Sunday night there was no-one there - and no-one has come forward since.