Loyalist John Howcroft 'attacked for 120th time'
Published 14/08/2014 | 02:30
A leading loyalist whose partner's home was attacked in the early hours of yesterday morning has claimed he is being intimidated by "anti-social elements" who want to take Northern Ireland back into the past.
John Howcroft, a member of the UDA-linked north Belfast UPRG, was woken at 3am on Wednesday by the windows of his partner's Ford Focus car being smashed. It was then set alight.
The fire was so strong that it quickly spread to the front door of the house. No-one was hurt in the attack. Howcroft, who works with the North Belfast Community Development Group, said it was the 120th time that either he, his colleague north Belfast UDA 'brigadier' John Bunting, or their organisation has been attacked.
Just 24 hours earlier the home of Scottish loyalist Neil Findlay was attacked in the loyalist Westlands estate.
Howcroft said he knew nothing about that attack and strenously denied that the to and fro was part of a UDA feud. He told the Belfast Telegraph that he and Bunting were working with the community to try and take it forward, while those waging attacks against them were trying to take the community back.
"There has been a series of incidents and attacks since 2010, the place where I work has been pipe-bombed twice, a colleague had a pipe-bomb in Duncairn Gardens, there's been assaults, threats, you name it, I have a catalogue of over 120," he said.
"The thing that is going on is because of the work that we are engaged in – moving communities forward, regeneration of houses in Tigers Bay, reducing tensions and opening the gates at Alexandra Park.
"But there is just this element in the community that wants to drag us back," he claimed.
When asked about a loyalist feud, a PSNI spokesman said: "Police do not comment on prescribed organisations." He said police believed the car was set alight deliberately yesterday, adding that officers were investigating the incident and appealed for information from the public.