Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 16 April 2014

UDA gangsters won't burn me out of Shankill, vows firebomb target mother

Tracey Coulter remains defiant

Loyalists have been urged to remain calm after the firebombing of the home of a mother-of-four.

Police yesterday confirmed they were treating the attack on Tracey Coulter's property as arson.

Ms Coulter blames the UDA for the attack, which came just days after loyalist killer Mo Courtney was convicted of headbutting her.

The targeting of Ms Coulter's Shankill Terrace home happened amid reports the UDA's so-called west Belfast brigade is becoming alienated from the organisation.

Tensions are such that there are fears of a bloody feud.

It is believed those behind Sunday's attack climbed onto her roof and removed slates before pouring petrol into the property.

The family were not at home but rushed to the scene when alerted to the blaze.

Ms Coulter said the family may not be able to return in time for Christmas and labelled the arsonists "bullies and gangsters".

DUP councillor Brian Kingston branded the incident "despicable" and called for calm. "This will be widely viewed as an act of thuggish intimidation," he said.

Ms Coulter yesterday said she had been targeted for speaking out about drug-dealing and paramilitary activity in the area.

"They're scumbags, they're animals – there's not even a message for them," she said. "But the fact is I'll not be going anywhere. I'm not moving, I will not be moved by bullies and gangsters."

Ms Coulter said her children – aged between four and 15 – were devastated by the destruction. The family are staying with relatives.

Asked if they believed the UDA was behind Sunday's attack, police yesterday said they were following a number of lines of inquiry.

Ms Coulter, whose UDA father Jackie was murdered by the UVF, said the UDA is trying to force her from her Shankill home.

The attack followed the conviction of Shankill UDA leader William 'Mo' Courtney.

Courtney assaulted Ms Coulter after she travelled to the Lower Shankill Community Association offices to speak to one of his associates about the death of a relative.

Her cousin Neil Orr had died from suspected drug abuse a week before the incident.

Ms Coulter urged First Minister Peter Robinson to withdraw funding to community groups affiliated with the UDA.

Last week the Belfast Telegraph revealed the widening divide between the UDA in west Belfast and its counterparts elsewhere.

Despite years of abuse by loyalist thugs, woman refuses to be cowed

She's a mother-of-four who has stood up to loyalist paramilitary bullies for more than a decade despite numerous death threats and attacks on her home.

Tracey Coulter has become a figure of hate among both the UDA and UVF for speaking out against criminality in the Shankill area, in which she has spent her entire life.

She has publicly taken loyalist paramilitaries to task since her father Jackie Coulter was murdered in a loyalist feud in 2000.

He was a high-profile figure within the UDA for three decades.

But she has rounded on the group, publicly accusing the organisation of flooding the Shankill with illicit drugs.

Ms Coulter refuses to be driven out, and has had to turn her property into a fortress, with bulletproof windows and doors.

When she leaves home, she is often abused in the street.

"I will not be driven from my home by these gangsters," she said, following the latest attack on Sunday evening.

Jackie Coulter (below) was a prominent UFF member and a close friend of Johnny Adair.

He was shot dead by the UVF during a bloody feud.

The UDA turned on the Coulter family shortly after they attended a public rally to protest over its murder of loyalist Alan McCullough in 2003.

In 2005 a hoax pipe-bomb was left on the doorstep of Jackie Coulter's widow Agnes. It followed the torching of two cars owned by Tracey.

In 2009 Tracey spoke out after receiving a fourth death threat in less than a year. A rampaging gang broke down the door of her home. Her children watched in horror as windows, a television, mirrors, a kitchen table and microwave were destroyed by the mob.

Her father's headstone has also been smashed on several occasions.

Just hours before Sunday's attack Tracey told how she feared a UDA leader on the Shankill was going to kill her.

UDA killer William 'Mo' Courtney was found guilty on Friday of headbutting Ms Coulter at the Lower Shankill Community Association in July.

She had gone to complain about drug dealing in the area following the drugs-related death of her cousin, Neil Orr, weeks before.

Ms Coulter said the UDA campaign of intimidation against her was ratcheted up following the incident.

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