A VETERAN DUP politician has been warned he is at risk of attack from elements within the South East Antrim UDA because he called for the killers of Glenn Quinn to be prosecuted.
Police told Davy Hilditch that intelligence indicated a firearm would be used in a possible attempt on his life.
The threat came just hours after the assembly member demanded justice for popular and terminally ill Glenn, who was beaten to death by a South East Antrim UDA mob in January.
No one has been charged with the barbaric killing - the SEVENTH unsolved murder of a Protestant carried out by the terror gang's Carrickfergus unit.
The South East Antrim UDA leadership told clergymen Rev Alan Harper and minister Gary Mason, via an intermediary, that it was not behind the threats to politicians and journalists. Sunday Life previously reported that gang leader Gary Fisher had not sanctioned the threats.
Adding fresh impetus to police efforts to catch Glenn's murderers, his elderly mum Ellen broke a six-month silence to appeal for information.
She said: "I never thought at my age I'd have to bury my child under such painful circumstances. No words can describe to you the pain I feel every single day at the loss of my Glenn.
"He was kind-hearted and would have helped anybody out. Everyone who knew Glenn loved him. I love him still. He was a big gentleman."
Courageous grandmother Ellen said Glenn's UDA killers beat him to death "for no reason at all".
She added: "They are still free, walking about like it was nothing to them. Everyone knows who they are - you've probably seen them in the queue for Tesco. Their lives can go on as normal, (but) mine can't because of them."
Glenn's grieving sister Lesley also pleaded with witnesses to come forward to police.
She said: "His killers are still walking the streets, terrorising the good people of Carrickfergus. Some of those good people will have information that can help the police do their job and get these individuals jailed for their horrendous deeds."
Replying to this on social media, Davy Hilditch, who lives in Carrickfergus, wrote: "The perpetrators must be brought to justice."
The following day he was contacted by police officers who said they had information that he could be attacked.
Refusing to he bullied, the East Antrim MLA said: "I have been a public representative for nearly 30 years and I will not be deterred from that work by faceless people."
Mr Hilditch is the sixth politician to be threatened in the past fortnight by elements within the South East Antrim UDA, led by under-pressure 'brigadier' Fisher.
Ulster Unionist MLAs Steve Aiken and Doug Beattie, Alliance MP Stephen Farry, SDLP Assemblyman Patsy McGlone and Sinn Fein MLA Linda Dillion were also targeted.
Their crime in the eyes of members of the loyalist gang was to condemn its intimidation of Sunday Life and Sunday World journalists who have exposed its terror campaign, one of whom was told a bomb was to be placed under his car.
However, the threats have backfired spectacularly, with PSNI chiefs now under huge pressure to crack down on the renegade South East Antrim UDA and its £2.5m-per-year drugs, extortion and money-lending rackets.
In their sights is leading Carrickfergus loyalist Colin Simms, who was arrested with another man and a woman in connection with the Glenn Quinn murder. All three were freed without charge after denying involvement.
The 40-year-old is a UDA enforcer in the town and has convictions for killing a woman in a car crash while drunk and possessing £350,000 worth of cannabis with intent to supply.
Detective Chief Inspector Darren McCartney, who is leading the Glenn Quinn murder investigation, said: "This was a violent and unprovoked attack on a vulnerable member of the community who was not in the best of health.
"The appalling individuals who preyed on defenceless Glenn in his own home need to be caught and put behind bars. It is clear that they do not represent the Carrickfergus community. Everyone has the right to feel safe in their own home."
South East Antrim UDA sources say Fisher is struggling to deal with the intense spotlight shone on him after the killing and threats.
The loyalist, who is in his early 50s and has led the gang since 2003, hates publicity and managed to avoid having his picture published until 2017.
But he is now a constant fixture in newspapers, largely down to the blatant displays of criminality by the out-of-control Carrickfergus unit.
Fisher and the town's UDA commander Clifford 'Trigger' Irons have been unable to rein them in, with the intimidation of journalists and politicians the latest example of how they have lost authority. Neither knew about the death threats until they read about them in the media.
Insiders say Fisher believes elements within the South East Antrim UDA are plotting to have him arrested. If that were to happen, it would be easier to challenge his position as leader.
He is also known to be growing increasingly paranoid about the National Crime Agency, which last year seized the Carrickfergus home of Irons. Things could get even tougher for Fisher when unexplained wealth legislation, forcing criminals to provide a detailed account of how they obtained cash, property or goods, is introduced later this year.
In a bid to thwart any financial moves against him, Fisher recently relocated from his long-term home in the Rathcoole estate in Newtownabbey to a new property in Greenisland.
The South East Antrim UDA has approximately 2,000 members and controls a 20-mile area of turf stretching from Larne to north Belfast.
Anyone with information on its murder of Glenn Quinn should contact police on 101 or the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.