Belfast Telegraph

UVF mural: Act of defiance prompts split fears

By Brian Rowan

Part of the UVF organisation is using the walls of east Belfast to send out a big message.

This is not just about painting murals of gunmen, about being controversial for the sake of it.

It is a challenge to the central leadership of the UVF and the politically-aligned PUP.

And more than that, it is a statement of intent from within one of the so-called brigades of the paramilitary organisation.

It is about saying, 'we're not going away', and about ignoring leadership orders to civilianise.

And, so, these sinister wall paintings are an act of defiance; sending messages up the Shankill Road to the UVF leader and also to Billy Hutchinson who is trying to resurrect the PUP.

"Obviously these people don't want represented," a senior loyalist said – his comments directed at that chunk of the UVF organisation in east Belfast.

"It looks like they want to disengage," he continued.

And this is the real danger in this situation; that this could lead to another split within loyalism. The story in east Belfast is not just about murals, but the recent brutal wounding of a young woman.

It is also about a police investigation that is probing drug dealing, gangsterism, a range of attacks and intimidation of the community.

On Twitter, PUP councillor John Kyle said the UVF in that part of the city was showing "nothing but contempt for the views of the local community".

But what's happening is bigger than that.

It is about rejecting the leaderships of Kyle's party and the so-called UVF 'command staff'.

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