Cowardly dissident Dee Fennell downed shots of vodka to celebrate browbeating Fr Gary Donegan during last weekend’s republican parade protest in Ardoyne.
His verbal assault on the much-loved Holy Cross priest was a carefully choreographed move to gain maximum publicity for both himself and the New IRA-linked Saoradh political party of which he is a senior member
But ego-maniac Fennell’s rant has backfired spectacularly with the people of Ardoyne turning on the balding dissident, who is not even from the sprawling north Belfast district.
The grammar school educated 34-year-old grew up in a £180,000 detached house on leafy Linden Gardens off the Cliftonville Road.
His current home is on Torrens Avenue in the Oldpark area, around a mile away from the Ardoyne shops where he led a band of dissident protesters who threatened priests, politicians and the press last weekend.
Among this so-called crowd of “locals” were individuals from west Belfast, Lurgan and Co Down.
Fennell, who was questioned earlier this year about the New IRA murder of dad of four Michael McGibbon, deliberately directed his ire at Fr Gary Donegan, knowing it would be recorded by the many TV crews and journalists in attendance.
Although his browbeating of the priest may have impressed his motley crew of supporters, and earned him a couple of free drinks from supporters in the Shamrock club, it has gone down like a lead balloon with the overwhelming majority of Ardoyne residents.
Dozens contacted Sunday Life to condemn the man they have labelled ‘Draft Dodger Dee’ and offer support for Fr Donegan, who has now moved to a parish in Crossgar.
Furious locals have also branded Fennell’s Greater Ardoyne Residents Collective (GARC) group a front for the New IRA-linked Saoradh political party, which was launched recently.
GARC turned on Fr Gary last April after he publicly condemned the New IRA’s murder of Ardoyne man Michael McGibbon.
The dad of four was shot dead over an alleged remark he made to the daughter of a dissident republican.
The shotgun killing horrified the people of Ardoyne who stood shoulder to shoulder with his heartbroken widow Joanne.
Dee Fennell was arrested afterwards and questioned over claims he ordered Michael to attend the meeting at which he was murdered. He was later released without charge.
It was after Fr Gary organised a vigil in support of the McGibbon family, which was attended by hundreds of Ardoyne residents, that police told him he was under threat from dissident republicans.
The warning came from the same group of supposed anti-PSNI hardliners who had previously got him to facilitate meetings between them and senior police officers.
This shows the absolute contradictions of New IRA cheerleaders in Ardoyne who publicly support murder bids on the PSNI, yet are prepared to meet its members in secret.
Another major flaw in their spokesman Dee Fennell’s position is that one of his closest advisers beat his relative to death with a breeze-block in 1996.
John Fennell – a founding member of the INLA – was murdered in Co Donegal during a feud between rival factions of the terror gang.
Despite this, Dee Fennell counts among his closest associates the killer who cracked his relative’s skull open with a breeze block.
A republican source said: “This is another example of how deluded Fennell is, and how he is prepared to suck-up to anyone just to get into a position of power.”
Fennell, who is facing charges of encouraging acts of terrorism following a speech he made in a Lurgan cemetery, also likes to boast of having journalists “in his back pocket”.
It’s because of this that he has been elevated to the position of spokesman for GARC and the Saoradh politicial party.
But the truth of the matter is the vast majority of Ardoyne residents recognise him as nothing more than a coward who spent last weekend picking on respected priest Fr Donegan.