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Secret buyer for infamous Bunch of Grapes bar where loyalist was brutally tortured and killed

By Rebecca Black

Published 09/06/2015

bunch of grapes bar
bunch of grapes bar

One of the most infamous bars in Belfast is set for a new lease of life.

The Bunch of Grapes on the Beersbridge Road was once the lair of the UDA, owned for a time by self-styled 'brigadier' Jim Gray.

It has now found a new owner, but their identity has so far remained a secret.

The premises - a three-storey end terrace building - was the scene of the brutal torture and murder of loyalist Geordie Legge in 2001, and the location of the 1988 murder of Jim Craig when it was known as the Castle Inn.

A small memorial garden to UDA activists stands beside the building.

More recently the bar had been rebranded as the Ibrox Bar, then again to the Eye-brox Bar.

It later closed and fell into disrepair with pigeons now a more regular sight in the eaves than flags.

Last year the former 0.61 acre site was effectively repossessed by Nama, the Republic's state-controlled "bad bank".

Nama appointed administrators to oversee Candon Developments, which owned the east Belfast pub, in 2013.

The company was controlled by Donaghadee-based developer William Rush.

The administrator's report suggests the bar and its licence are worth £100,000.

However, it is understood to have sold for around £65,000.

Photographs of the interior on the O'Connor, Kennedy, Turtle estate agents website reveal a ghostly looking bar with the remains of the wooden counter, several stools and an upended red leather seat. The estate agent's promotional pack says there is the potential to regain the liquor licence for the premises.

There has also been speculation that the building may be turned into residential use, with several apartment blocks nearby.

However, a spokesman for the estate agent would not speculate on what plans may be in store for the premises and did not confirm what price the property had sold for.

The site currently benefits from an income of £1,250 a year from an advertising hoarding.

The selling of the bar comes as the UDA are repainting some of the most notorious murals in east Belfast.

Freedom Corner on the Lower Newtownards Road is a series of four murals depicting gunmen, as well as the Ulster Young Militants.

The paintwork was damaged by a PSNI water cannon during disturbances at the nearby peaceline.

The UDA and affiliated UFF are estimated to have been responsible for around 259 murders during the Troubles.

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