Belfast Telegraph

Ciaran Barnes: These ignorant thugs are wrong if they think they are untouchable

By Ciaran Barnes

When the LVF was functioning as a pseudo-paramilitary gang, Ballysillan was its Belfast power-base.

But its old leaders have long since moved out of the sprawling loyalist district on the slopes of Cave Hill, leaving behind a younger generation of criminals eager to follow in their footsteps and gain the same wealth.

What these young men - the thugs behind the recent arson and house attacks on Ballysillan Avenue - fail to comprehend is that the LVF does not exist.

It is the one paramilitary group in Northern Ireland that has truly gone out of business. The only people using its name now are drug dealers in Antrim and a ragtag bunch of hoods in Ballysillan, who think that those three letters will intimidate locals into not challenging their criminality.

The current dispute in Ballysillan came about after residents removed LVF flags from lamp-posts in the area. The thugs who put them up - idiots who couldn't tell the difference between Edward Carson and Frank Carson - responded by smashing the windows of the homes of locals and burning their cars.

They wrongly believe they are untouchable because they have the support of a former LVF drug dealer from Ballysillan, who now lives a comfortable life in east Antrim far away from the mayhem of north Belfast.

These young men, often high on his drugs and their own self-importance, could not be more wrong.

The UVF is coming under pressure to respond, especially after PUP councillor Julie-Anne Corr-Johnston was threatened while helping residents whose homes were targeted. The politician rightly insists on a peaceful resolution to the tension in an area in which she grew up and serves diligently on Belfast City Council.

Police chiefs will be concerned that these latest attacks only push the matter further away from politicians and into hands of the UVF on the Shankill Road.

In their ranks are seasoned killers with a deep hatred of the LVF, and who would relish the opportunity to lay down a marker to its new brood.

Belfast Telegraph

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