The Beast from East Belfast could put an end to flags violence right now... but he won’t
Maverick UVF boss lets his underlings make trouble at will
A small number of senior UVF men are directing the riots in east Belfast that have brought shame on Northern Ireland.
Two senior henchmen of the UVF chief in east Belfast have ignored warnings from the organisation’s leadership to bring an end to the violence which has left dozens of PSNI officers injured and cost millions of pounds.
And while the UVF’s leader in the east of the city — as the ‘Beast from the East’ — could end the rioting immediately, he has failed to bring his men under control.
On Monday night — when police were forced to fire plastic bullets after being attacked with petrol bombs, hatchets and sledgehammers — the east Belfast ‘battalion commander’ used his influence to order an end to the attacks on police for the night.
But he has taken little involvement since then.
“He is not organising all of this but he could stop it if he wanted,” a community source said.
A security source added: “Their boss isn’t stopping them... he does have the power to stop it.”
The lives of east Belfast’s residents and its traders have been thrown into turmoil by the few hundred people who have been called out to riot. The main man behind the riots is second in command of the UVF in east Belfast.
From the Newtownards Road area, he has been determined to keep the violence churning after his partner — who is the sister of the second man helping to organise the riots — was allegedly struck by a police baton during disorder in the area at the weekend.
It is understood that the woman was arrested by police on Saturday for public order offences.
“He (the second in command) would have more power than their commander to get people out on the streets,” the source added.
His accomplice, from the Sydenham area of east Belfast, is currently on bail for drugs offences.
“Look what he has been able to help do to the area over the past week. I’m pretty sure he’s in breach of any bail conditions,” another source said.
“The refusal of both men to stop directing the riots has raised fears that the UVF within east Belfast is out of control and could split from the mainstream terror organisation.
“The UVF has not ordered people out rioting. In the east its members are doing their own thing,” the source added.
It is not the first time the UVF in east Belfast has acted without authority of the organisation’s leadership. In June 2011 the ‘Beast from the East’ directed riots in the area.
Both the main organisers of the current riots were part of a loyalist delegation that met First Minister Peter Robinson in the summer of 2011 when politicians moved to calm the situation after the UVF was linked by police to an organised attack on the nationalist Short Strand.
More than £7m has been spent policing the loyalist flag protests and associated disorder. A large number of local traders have warned that the disturbances are ruining their businesses and some could be forced to close down.