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‘Irish Volunteers’ addict in weekend car chase

By Staff Reporter

A DISSIDENT republican  barred from every chemist in West Belfast is believed to have been the target of a police chase through Twinbrook in broad daylight at the weekend.

Police were called to the estate on Saturday afternoon when neighbours spotted the well-known criminal, who we have reported on before, approaching a house in the estate.

The man – with such a heavy addiction to prescription drugs that he has been barred from every chemist in the district – is a key member of a gang that is terrorising families in the Colin area.  In recent months he has been involved in a number of incidents in which  gangs claiming to be from “the republican movement” have attempted to extort  money from the families of low-level teenage drug dealers in the area.

When he was spotted approaching the house on Saturday at midday – clearly high on drugs at the time, according to an eyewitness – nearby residents quickly called the police. The man had been on a mission to extort money from a local  family using the name of the ‘Irish Volunteers’ but, along with a criminal accomplice, left the house empty-handed. According to eyewitnesses, the PSNI flooded the area very quickly and a car chase developed.

The drug addict managed to evade capture, as did his accomplice. In a separate incident, another man driving a different car was arrested and later released pending further enquiries.

The Irish Volunteers gang began as a few notorious Turf Lodge criminals closely aligned to a former CIRA man now locked up in Maghaberry. With the gang leader incarcerated, the men established the new group which has attracted a number of other itinerant criminals that we have reported on in recent times.  They now have their criminal headquarters in mid-Andersonstown and have focused their activity in the streets of that district.

A recent security alert in Cavanmore Gardens is also being blamed on the gang.  A viable pipe-bomb was discovered in the street in mid-November, causing surrounding homes to be evacuated.  It’s believed the pipe-bomb was left near the home of a small-time drug dealer in an attempt to frighten the man into paying out to the gang.

“These people aren’t warning anyone to stop dealing,” said a republican source, “they are just asking for money, that’s all they care about. No doubt in this case in Twinbrook, the gang woke up and needed a fix and needed money to get it, so went along to this house in the middle of the day in an attempt to extort some cash from a family.”

While the extortion attempts continue, the Irish Volunteers are also targeting houses growing marijuana plants. The gangs have raided ‘grow houses’ in recent months and are stealing the plants to sell them on to gangs south of the border.

“We know they are raiding these grow houses for the plants and, if lucky, money too.  They are selling a keg of stems to contacts in Cork for £500 a go.  They are targeting drug houses and drug dealers, not because of any moral reason or to enhance any sort of cause, they are doing so because they know that’s how they will get money. That’s what it’s all about with these groups – the money.”

The PSNI this week confirmed that a car chase had taken place in Twinbrook..

“A 33-year-old man was arrested on the afternoon of Saturday 7 December in the Aspen Walk area of Dunmurry on suspicion of several offences, including attempted criminal damage, resisting police, possession of an offensive weapon and dangerous driving,” he said.

“The arrest followed a report just before 12 noon that a car had collided with a wall in the Broom Park area of Dunmurry. The driver of the car, believed to be armed with a weapon, was then reported to have got out of the car and shouted at the owner of the house. He then got back in the car and left the area. A short time later, it is believed that the car failed to stop for police. Police pursued the vehicle for a short distance until it was abandoned in the Aspen Walk area and the arrest was made.”

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