Loyalist paramilitary groups raking in £250,000 a month in members “dues'”      

Posted By: December 03, 2020


ALLISON MORRIS.  Irish News. Belfast. Thursday, December 3, 2020


LOYALIST paramilitary groups are raking in around £250,000 a month from payments by more than 12,500 members.


Both the UDA and UVF have continued to recruit members into their ranks, despite calling a ceasefire more than 26 years ago.


Security assessments claim that there continue to be around 7,500 people in the UVF and 5,000 in the UDA.


While many of those members would be older and largely inactive, they still have to pay £5 a week to the local area commander that goes to pay the ‘wages’ of the local ‘brigadier’ and other senior members.


UDA members pay £20 a month ‘dues’ to the organization, while UVF members pay a ‘tote’ which is also around £5 a week or £20 a month.


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The cash raised means around £62,500 a month going through the hands of senior loyalists.


Sources say the man widely believed to be the leader of the south Belfast UDA, Jackie McDonald is the only senior member who does not take a weekly ‘wage’ from the organization.


Mainly inactive members are ordered to attend annual parades and remembrance events and buy tickets for fundraisers.


However, the PSNI believed younger members are recruited into both organizations to carry out foot soldier duties, linked to drug dealing, extortion, and collecting money from money laundering.


Members of the public, who accumulate drug debts, are often offered high-interest loans from paramilitary loan-sharks, to avoid being subjected to punishment style assaults.


The loans that are paid back at a high-interest rate leaving many people living well below the poverty line as they struggle with repayments.


The BBC NI’s Spotlight program, reported this week on PSNI and MI5 intelligence into the high number of people still members of loyalist paramilitary groups.


It stated while many are not active, they are still “card-carrying” members of both the UVF and UDA.


Continued recruitment, while linked to the money paid by members, is also ongoing due to internal rivalries between different loyalist areas, who maintain numbers of men in their ranks as protection against attack from rival paramilitary factions.


Last month, the Independent Reporting Commission (IRC) warned paramilitary groups still pose a “clear and present danger” to Northern Ireland.


Set up by the UK and Irish governments, the commission provides an annual assessment of progress towards ending paramilitarism and has called for a process to begin to disband the groups.


The UDA remains the most fractured of the paramilitary groups, with no overarching leadership, and many areas run like individual fiefdoms.


The South Antrim UDA is itself split into two factions which are little more than two rival criminal gangs.


The SEA UDA faction based in Carrickfergus is thought to have been behind recent threats to a number of journalists.


North Antrim UDA remain the most active of the factions and was responsible for a recent gun attack that left Coleraine grandmother Sally Cummings fighting for her life and a number of punishment style shootings in the area.