Split fears as UVF expels 60 in Mid-Ulster
More than 60 members of the UVF in mid-Ulster have been stood down by the terror group, Sunday Life can reveal.
Senior security sources say the terrorists were forced to leave on the orders of the UVF's Shankill-based 'chief of staff'.
Sources say they were booted out after questioning the leadership's decision to put its arms "beyond use".
Those expelled include two high-ranking 'officers', two notorious brothers from Banbridge and the UVF's leader in the Waringstown area.
Their number also includes former supporters of LVF mass murderer Billy Wright.
Said a senior source: "There is some dissension within the UVF's ranks in the mid-Ulster area over the direction the group has taken and that's why the leadership has stepped in.
"Criminality is still ongoing in the area, but the Belfast-based leaders are determined to put an end to it.
"A special meeting was held last month in which the members were told they were being stood down. There was no discussion and it was all over in minutes.
"A lot of the men didn't take it too well because many of them believe there is still a threat from dissident republicans in the area.
" Nobody knows if the expelled members will form their own group to continue with their criminality.
"These men were disobeying orders and other members have been told that this will not be tolerated."
The UVF has instructed its members to end all their criminal enterprises. Sources claim senior figures in north and east Belfast have been told to " monitor" their members' activities over the coming weeks.
Added a source: "The leadership has received some complaints about the criminal actions of people with links to the UVF and they are determined to stamp this behaviour out.
"They have been told to keep a close eye on people because the leadership is sticking to its stance on keeping everyone behind the one strategy."