Belfast Telegraph

UDA recruitment posters raise tensions on housing estate

Recruitment posters for the outlawed Ulster Defence Association (UDA) have been put up in a Co Londonderry housing estate.

The posters seeking 'volunteers' were pasted on to walls in the Harpurs Hill area of Coleraine.

John Dallat, SDLP MLA, has called for the police to intervene.

He said: "The appearance of these UDA 'recruitment' posters is a blatant attempt to raise tensions and shows a flagrant disregard for the rule of law.

"It is a disappointing reality for many that this latest offence will not come as a big surprise, with flags hanging from hundreds of street lamps and no apparent initiative to take them down."

There has been an upsurge in loyalist paramilitary activity in the Coleraine and North Antrim area since former UDA boss Billy McFarland, nicknamed 'The Mexican', was ousted in 2013.

The terror group was blamed for murdering Brian McIlhagga in Ballymoney earlier this year. The 42-year-old father of five was beaten and dragged into the garden of a house at Riverview Park where he was shot in the leg and bled to death.

The UDA was also believed to have been behind a spate of so-called punishment attacks including shooting a 15-year-old schoolboy in the legs in Coleraine.

Mr Dallat claimed a number of Catholic-owned businesses have recently been subjected to online sectarian harassment -- forcing one small catering company to pull out of a lucrative deal.

Mr Dallat added: "History must not be allowed to repeat itself and both the British and Irish Governments need to be acutely aware that the principles and aspirations of the Good Friday Agreement are being flouted by an illegal organisation which, far from hiding in fear of prosecution, is now openly putting up posters looking for 'volunteers' in Coleraine.

"The Deputy First Minister and Secretary of State for Northern Ireland continue to chase each other around the United States when they should be asking obvious questions about the existence and ability of this terror group to operate openly as they do."

The PSNI said officers were investigating.

Chief Inspector Catherine Magee said: "We are aware of the posters and working to establish their origin.

"However, in more general terms, vigilante groups and gangs do not deliver for victims of crime and they do not deliver for communities. Experience has shown that these groups are often motivated by self-interest and self-promotion.

"Communities are best served by police working closely with truly representative groups on the ground."

Anyone with information is asked to contact the PSNI on the non emergency 101 number.

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