Belfast Telegraph

UVF had 150 petrol bombs stockpiled for use at Avoniel

Allan Preston

By Allan Preston

The east Belfast UVF stockpiled 150 petrol bombs to attack police if the Avoniel bonfire was removed, a loyalist source has claimed.

It was also claimed in a Sunday Life report that the UVF placed tyres at the bonfire site on purpose to use as a bargaining tool.

It's further suggested that the tense scenes at Avoniel before the Eleventh Night celebrations have been used by the UVF to win back support after the murder of east Belfast man Ian Ogle in January.

The source said that the east Belfast UVF leader Stephen Matthews and some of his closest allies slept in cars at Avoniel throughout the week in case contractors moved in to clear the site.

"UVF members had stockpiled over 150 petrol bombs in the locality to use in attacks on any police officers at the site as the PSNI would have had to protect contractors," they said.

"The UVF has known for weeks that there could be issues at Avoniel. They deliberately placed the tyres inside the bonfire but never had any intention of burning them.

"They knew if there were any objections they would be a bargaining tool and believed that removing them would give them a greater chance of the bonfire being allowed to go ahead."

They added: " Had the bonfire been removed, the UVF would have orchestrated serious violence."

On Friday Chief Constable Simon Byrne accused the UVF of a "cynical ploy" of using women and children as human shields to prevent the bonfire from being demolished.

Following community protests about the murder of Mr Ogle, the loyalist source added that the UVF had been "desperate" to present themselves as the defenders of the people.

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