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2 loyalist groupsemerging as threats

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Anne Cadwallader

BELFAST — Two shadowy loyalist groups, one previously unknown and calling itself "The Red Hand Defenders," have come to the fore in recent days amid fears of a realignment of extreme and violent elements opposed to the Good Friday Agreement.

The Red Hand Defenders claim responsibility for the burnings of Catholic chapels over the summer. It’s believed there is cross-membership between the new group and the LVF, which is on cease-fire and demanding the early release of their prisoners.

Meanwhile, the so-called Orange Volunteers, which some see as the military wing of the Orange Order, have also been in the news after a civil servant was suspended on full pay after his bosses viewed the video of a speech given in 1995 during which he referred to this group.

In a statement issued last week that quoted Deuteronomy, Chapter 7, verses 2-7, the Red Hand Defenders claimed responsibility for: "The cleansing of 10 Roman temples and the burning of Catholic businesses in Portadown, Antrim and Newtownards."

It also claimed responsibility for "the blast-bomb attack on a Catholic business and the blast-bomb attack in which a Catholic policeman," was killed, a reference to Constable Francis O’Reilly, who died two weeks ago after a loyalist blast bomb hit him in the face on Sept. 25.

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The statement went on to say: "This is only the beginning. Warning! The Red Hand Defenders will continue the war against Rome and its puppets.

"All those involved in the sell-out of Ulster will now be classed as legitimate targets; i.e. so-called Protestant ministers involved with Rome, civil servants implementing the sell-out, traitors in the unionist Party and all Catholics."

The statement was signed Cromwell. The Old Testament verses the statement quotes read: "You shall doom them . . . show them no mercy . . . destroy them by fire . . . you are a sacred people . . . you are really the smallest of all nations."

The Orange Volunteers have been described by suspended civil servant David Dowey to be the "paramilitary side" of the Orange Order. He told a rally of 1,500 Orangemen in the Ulster Hall during 1995 that he was proud to be a "sectarian bigot."

He said Orangemen might have to use violence to protect themselves and said he supported breaking the law to overturn bans on Orange parades. He also supported the boycotting of Catholic businesses.

During his speech, Dowey said: "I’m a sectarian bigot and proud of it. There’s nothing to be afraid of in those words. Sectarian means you belong to a particular sect or organization. I belong to the Orange Institution.

"Bigot means you look after the people you belong to; that’s what I’m doing."

Downey also referred to Cardinal Cahal Daly as "the sleekit little red-hatted weasel." His words echoed a similar description of Dr. Daly by a Church of Ireland minister some years earlier.

Dowey said he had joined the Orange Order because it was a "defense force for the Protestant people" and that the time would come when they would have to defend themselves "physically."

"But remember," he said, "it’s how our Order was founded. It was founded in violence, and if you don’t like the idea of the Orange Order standing up and defending itself physically, there are other organizations that could do it. The Orange Order has its own paramilitary side, the Orange Volunteers

"You will have to be prepared brethren, I think, to get your hands dirty," said Dowey, urging a directory of Orange banks, restaurants, shops and bars.

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