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Tarring and feathering: a shameful echo of our past

UDA role again under spotlight

By Ashleigh Wallace

These are the shocking pictures which show a Belfastman being tied to a lamppost before he is tarred and feathered by two hooded men in a horrific punishment attack.

The man was targeted in the loyalist Taughmonagh estate in south Belfast on Sunday evening.

After having tar poured over his head, the victim was covered in feathers. A placard was then placed around his neck.

The brutal attack will once again raise concerns over UDA activity, although a member of the Ulster Political Research Group (UPRG) has denied the incident was a UDA punishment attack, saying it was a "reaction from the community".

Local Ulster Unionist Assemblyman Michael McGimpsey branded the tarring and feathering as "ghastly" and said it "harked back to the worst days of the Troubles".

The victim was targeted on Sunday and, after being tied to a lamppost at the shops in Taughmonagh, he was tarred and feathered by two men wearing black balaclavas while a group of people - including women and children - looked on.

Family members arrived at the scene and released the man and led him away.

Colin Halliday from the UPRG, which gives political advice to the UDA, said: "This man being tarred and feathered was a community reaction. It was not a UDA punishment attack.

"There was a lot of anger within the community.

"The community demanded something be done. There were people baying for blood but that's not the way things are done now.

"There were women and children present when this was going on and what happened has sent out a very clear message."

South Belfast Assembly member Mr McGimpsey said the weekend attack was " ghastly".

He said: "If there is an accusation against an individual, then this should be dealt with by the police and the courts.

"It is wrong for anyone concerned - whether they purport to represent the community or not - to take the law into their own hands and administer this type of mob punishment.

"I know the community in Taughmonagh and community leaders have been working tremendously hard over the years to overcome negative publicity in the area.

"I feel they will see what happened on Sunday as a major setback to that hard work."

A police spokesman confirmed the PSNI received a report that a man had been assaulted in the Finwood Park area of Taughmonagh on Sunday evening.

He said: "When police arrived at the scene, no victim was located and none has since come forward."

The attack happened at a time of heightened public concerns over UDA violence. Minister for Social Development Margaret Ritchie has warned she will pull a £1.2m grant for a conflict transformation initiative if the UDA fails to move on the arms issue after recent violence in Bangor and Carrickfergus.

Last week in an interview with the Belfast Telegraph, loyalist 'brigadier' Jackie McDonald challenged the Chief Constable to remove criminals from the ranks of the UDA and called for dialogue between the loyalist leadership and the Department of Social Development.

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