UDA 'lining their pockets'
Police chief hits out after visiting violence flashpoints
One of the PSNI's most senior officers has accused the UDA of "lining their pockets" and making the lives of young people "miserable - through drugs".
Assistant Chief Constable Peter Sheridan was speaking after the recent UDA-linked street violence in Carrickfergus and Bangor.
"When was the last time the UDA did anything that could be remotely construed as protecting the loyalist community?" he asked.
The senior police officer is arguing for a deadline to be set - a date when illegal activity is no longer attributed to paramilitary organisations, but to "criminal gangs".
He believes that date should coincide with the devolution of policing and justice powers to local politicians. The target for that is next spring.
"That's their window," Mr Sheridan said - meaning a last chance for the paramilitary organisations to end their criminal activities.
And on that recent UDA violence, he asked: "Is loyalism about shooting at the police, about drug dealing, about extortion, and about intimidating their own communities?"
"That's exactly where they are today. All of their activity is about lining their pockets, making lives miserable for young people through drugs," he continued.
And he questioned the ability of the UDA leadership to deliver the organisation away from criminality.
"I recognise that there are some people who genuinely want to take the organisations out of criminality," he said.
But he continued: "It is not clear that they have control? They have the intent, but they may not be able to deliver."
Mr Sheridan wants to remove any paramilitary cover for criminal activity.
That is why he is suggesting this deadline or "cut off" point when all such activity is attributed to "criminal gangs".
"The date is so that we can get on with normal policing - deal with criminals as criminals," he told the Belfast Telegraph.
"It's the only way of putting some pressure on them (the paramilitaries)," he argued.
His thinking has the backing of the Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde.