Fisher’s terror group bring disgrace to Remembrance Sunday as drug dealers and criminals lay wreaths
The South East Antrim UDA disgraced Remembrance Sunday by putting drug dealers in a Poppy Day commemoration.
Senior figures in the terror gang, including leader Gary Fisher, had earlier taken over part of a Newtownabbey graveyard to lay wreaths at the resting places of its deceased members.
This roll call of shame, to dead members such as murdered SEA UDA brigadier John ‘Grugg’ Gregg, angered the families of genuine military veterans who were at Carnmoney Cemetery to pay respect to their loved ones.
“It was disgusting to see these criminals and drug dealers hijack Poppy Day to dishonour the dead,” said one onlooker. Less than an hour later, Fisher led a sinister SEA UDA-supporting parade around the Diamond area of Rathcoole — his power-base and a housing estate which was once the biggest in western Europe.
Paranoid about being photographed, he wore a large Covid-19 face-mask, dark glasses and hat, as did some of his closest lieutenants.
Those at the front of the march carried SEA UDA wreaths circled with poppies.
Among the leading loyalists who accompanied Fisher in Carnmoney Cemetery was his associate Robert ‘Younger’ Young. He was pictured afterwards wearing a face-mask in the paramilitary-linked parade. Also in attendance at the graveyard were Carrickfergus SEA UDA man William ‘Spacer’ Cameron, who has a conviction for possessing bullets, and Fisher’s former political advisor Tommy Kirkham.
Standing nearby wearing a flat cap was a convicted cocaine dealer turned businessman who oversees the SEA UDA’s £2.5m per year drug rackets.
Monkey-hat wearing Graham ‘Carlo’ Bingham, who was convicted of the 1992 sectarian cut-throat murder of Anne Marie Smyth, was another pictured laughing among the headstones.
According to loyalist sources, several SEA UDA chiefs opted out of the later Rathcoole parade for fear of being photographed by Sunday Life.
Our source added: “That’s why Fisher put on the Covid mask and dark glasses when he marched around Rathcoole, he was paranoid about being pictured. He had SEA UDA members patrolling the estate in cars looking out for photographers.
“There was a function in a social club afterwards, but Fisher didn’t hang about. He stayed for a short time and then told his commanders they were ‘dismissed’ and could go home if they wanted.”
Crime chief Fisher has led the SEA UDA for two decades since the 2003 loyalist feud murder of its former boss John ‘Grugg’ Gregg.
It was his grave that the terror gang laid wreaths at on Remembrance Sunday.
For years Fisher kept a low profile earning him the nickname ‘The Ghost’, until 2017 when he was pictured for the first time in this newspaper following the SEA UDA killings of rival loyalists Geordie Gilmore and Colin Horner.
This led to renewed police attention on the gang, scrutiny which was cranked up in January 2020 after his men beat terminally-ill Glenn Quinn to death in Carrickfergus.
Since then, the PSNI’s Paramilitary Crime Taskforce has made the SEA UDA its top priority. Investigations into historic murders committed by the crime cartel have been reopened and it has been hammered by almost weekly drug raids.
On Friday, the SEA UDA’s main drug distributor, William ‘Duck’ McTaggart, was caged for five years for possessing cocaine with intent to supply. The 51-year-old’s fingerprints and DNA were discovered on packages of the drug stashed inside a flat in the Rathcoole estate.
The role of McTaggart, who also has an extortion conviction, was to divide up among Newtownabbey, Larne and Carrickfergus street dealers its cocaine and cannabis purchased from crime gangs in England and Dublin.
The PSNI’s offensive against the SEA UDA continued last week with raids on a property in Rathcoole uncovering £15,000 of cannabis and a £10,000 postal seizure of the drug.
A 37-year-old man arrested in connection with the find was later released on police bail.
It is understood this individual was among the group that accompanied SEA UDA chief Gary Fisher to Carnmoney Cemetery on Remembrance Sunday. The intense police focus on the activities of the veteran loyalist leader have led to him privately admitting that he would like to relinquish his ‘brigadier’ rank.
But there is currently no one willing to take over the mantle, with Fisher’s inner circle of friends all rejecting the high-profile role.
“Years ago they would have been queuing up to take over as brigadier, but not now,” said a SEA UDA source.
“They’ve seen what the last few years have done to Fisher, he’s a paranoid wreck and looks terrible. The pressure the cops have put him under is unreal.
“Fisher’s commanders can see what has happened to him, both physically and mentally, and don’t want that for themselves regardless of how much money the brigadier position will bring,” added the insider.
“They are also happy for him to stay in place because it takes the focus off them and their drug dealing.”
The most recent MI5/police intelligence assessment of the SEA UDA, which has 2,000 members, describes it as “having access to arms” and being “heavily involved in drugs supply, community coercion, intimidation and other criminality”.
The gang controls 20 miles of territory in loyalist areas stretching from Larne to north Belfast, and also runs rackets in parts of Ballymena and Newtownards.