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Loyalist funding in danger 'after tar and feathering'

(Barry McCaffrey, Irish News)

Government funding for a controversial loyalist project may have been put in further jeopardy after the UDA was alleged to have tarred and feathered a man.

Police were called to Finwood Park on the Taughmonagh estate in south Belfast shortly after 10pm on Sunday after reports that a man had been assaulted.

A spokesman said officers were unable to find the alleged victim and no complaint has been made.

However, a security source last night (Monday) said a man had been "tarred and feathered".

The source said a recent decision had been taken to target victims in this way rather than beat people or shoot them in the legs.

After facing public criticism for paramilitary-style shootings and beatings both republican and loyalist paramilitaries have in recent years tarred and feathered people they alleged were involved in anti-social behaviour.

In 2002 the UVF claimed in the loyalist magazine Combat that it had tarred and feathered a number of individuals allegedly involved in so-called 'joyriding' and petty crime.

Posters warning that people in-volved in anti-social behaviour would be dealt with in this way were also displayed on walls in loyalist estates.

In April 2003 the INLA was blamed for tarring and feathering two teenage boys in north Belfast.

It was the first of a series of INLA attacks in the area which were ultimately blamed for teenagers taking their own lives.

In 2004 the UDA forced two teenagers to stand on a main road in north Belfast carrying placards supposedly admitting their involvement in anti-social behaviour.

The organisation claimed that the practice was an alternative to shootings and beatings, although violent attacks also continued.

In August 2005 the UVF was also blamed for tarring and feathering two teenagers in separate attacks in the Village area of south Belfast.

Any evidence that the UDA is still involved in so-called punishment attacks could have significant financial implications for loyalist groups.

Earlier this month social development minister Margaret Ritchie warned that she would withdraw £1.2 million funding for a loyalist project if the UDA did not decommission within 60 days.

August 29, 2007

This article appeared first in the August 28, 2007 edition of the Irish News.

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