Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 1 October 2014

UDA man tried to run me off road in turf war, says loyalist

Rab McKee said he has been targeted after helping to set up the Innocent Victims Community Group
Rab McKee said he was targeted after helping to set up the Innocent Victims Community Group

A high-profile loyalist has claimed a rival tried to run his car off a busy road as tensions continue to simmer between competing factions in north Belfast.

Rab McKee said he was driving alone along the Limestone Road when another vehicle repeatedly swerved in his direction in an attempt to force him into a collision.

Mr McKee said up to five men were in the other vehicle at the time, including former UDA prisoner John Howcroft.

Mr McKee claimed both cars stopped and verbal insults and threats were directed towards him by the group of five men.

"The road was busy at the time and there was at least one young family close by," Mr McKee claimed.

"He told me if I had any problems we could sort them out there and then.

"There were four or five of them and I told him to take himself on.

"Things are getting out of hand and people on the ground are fighting to keep a lid on it."

Mr McKee said he planned to report the alleged incident, which he said happened at 4.30pm on Tuesday, to police last night.

Mr McKee – chair of the Protestant Coalition – said he had no affiliations with any paramilitary group.

Tensions are high between the Protestant Coalition and sections of loyalism sympathetic to the UDA after the former set up a rival advice centre in north Belfast.

The advice centre is close to one already established which is linked to the UDA-linked Ulster Political Research Group.

Mr McKee said he has been targeted after helping to set up the Innocent Victims Community Group office on the York Road. Attempts were made to burn it down within days of its opening last month.

Earlier this week, Mr Howcroft – a leading member of the UPRG – claimed he had been confronted by Mr McKee outside the established office.

There are also believed to be differences over a strategy for the upcoming elections. The UPRG has urged loyalists to sign onto the election register and maximise unionist representation, with many interpreting this as support for the DUP.

However, the Protestant Coalition has been highly critical of the DUP since its inception.

There were fears late last year that a major bust-up within the UDA could tear the paramilitary group apart.

A crowd of up to 40 people gathered outside the home of Mr Howcroft, a close associate of north Belfast UDA 'brigadier' John Bunting.

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