Police 'stood by as UVF put on show of strength in Belfast'
Up to 50 men took over a north Belfast housing estate in a sinister "UVF show of strength" as several police officers looked on, it has been claimed.
Residents were left terrified when the loyalist mob, some wearing hoods and balaclavas, marched along the Shore Road and into the Shore Crescent estate at 9.30pm on Monday.
They then stood in a square in the estate for some time in a bid to intimidate a number of local residents before pulling out. None of the mob are believed to have been armed.
It is understood the so-called show of strength relates to a feud between the UVF in Mount Vernon and the UDA in Shore Crescent. A top UDA man in north Belfast is understood to have been beaten with iron bars by a UVF gang at the weekend.
Residents in Shore Crescent have criticised police for not taking any action against the mob.
"There were about four police Land Rovers that I could see and they watched the whole thing but didn't do anything about it. It was a joke," one resident said.
"What's going to stop that lot coming back again to intimidate our area? Elderly people and kids live here, too.
"They shouldn't have to put up with this sort of thing. None of us should. Yet the police just seemed not to be bothered," he added.
The PSNI said they received reports of a large group gathering in the Shore Crescent area of north Belfast shortly after 9.30pm on Monday night.
Inspector Kelly Moore said: "Police attended the area and maintained a presence until the crowd dispersed. There were no reports of any offences and no complaints were made to police."
However, Raymond McCord, whose son was murdered by the UVF, hit out at police for not making arrests.
"This mob put a whole estate in fear. Women were coming out panicking. They took over the Shore Road as they marched down there and back and yet not a thing was done about it.
"And where are the politicians who claim to represent the unionist people? Why have none of them condemned this? The unionist community are fed up with this," he added.
It is understood that UVF members from New Mossley and Rathcoole came to support the Mount Vernon UVF in the show of strength.
They gathered at the Crusaders Club in north Belfast before marching along the Shore Road to Shore Crescent.
"This is about the UVF wanting control of north Belfast. They are nothing but thugs. This show of strength was them telling the UDA and others that they control the area," a loyalist source said.
Police have previously come under fire for failing to stop shows of strength by dissident republicans.