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‘Loyalist criminality will be exposed by UPRG’

By Evan Short

A North Belfast UPRG member has said his group plan to expose the ‘criminal conspiracy that lies behind efforts to marginalise the current loyalist leadership in the area’.

John Howcroft says they will use the next edition of their quarterly publication to outline what he says is the criminality of those who have taken to the streets to oppose the UPRG.

Since last year, a vocal loyalist element has spoken out against the UPRG leading to a number of assaults and protests outside homes.

But the UPRG member told the North Belfast News there was more to the campaign, and they would be making their position public in the coming days.

“It will address the supposed takeover bid because really it’s criminal elements behind it, so we will be devoting a section in our next magazine to that.

“It’s about drugs, it’s about money and it’s about loan sharking and people wanting those old days back. There has been a lot of coverage in the papers but we won’t be personalising it.”

The people behind the bid to oust the UPRG leadership, he says, have ulterior motives other than disgruntlement at the political process.

“It’s some criminal elements that are attracting other criminal elements and what they were doing was roping young guys in and telling them they were defending their community against republicans at the interface. But it wasn’t, because when they got them out on the street it was about putting loyalists out of their homes.

“Now a lot of these young lads are catching on that it’s not necessarily about what they thought it was about  – it’s about ushering in a criminal enterprise.”

He said while they wouldn’t identify individuals, they would outline what they say are the real reasons for their members being confronted.

“We are working on it currently and while we won’t be naming names, we will be exposing a lot of the criminality behind what is going on because that’s what it’s about.”

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