Otherwise, they hinted, the UDA’s recent 12-month conditional ceasefire could be put at risk.
An Ulster Political Research Group spokesman, Frankie Gallagher, said: “Members of the security services seem to want to kill this initiative before it even starts. This is the biggest thing undertaken by the UDA in the last 30 years, and if there are people who are determined it fails, that will have major implications for the whole peace process.”
Loyalist representatives were angered by suggestions that the new agency and its British government-backed team of crime fighters will focus only on top UDA men’s profits.
Gallagher accepted that the agency has a job to do but insisted it should not have its sights trained just on the UDA. “Alan McQuillan seems to be focusing solely on the supposed leaders of the UDA when people involved in criminality and drugs are also on the republican side,” he said.
Backed by the new Proceeds of Crime Act, Alan McQuillan, the former assistant chief constable, plans to confiscate criminal wealth, sue the gangsters or slap huge tax bills on them.
John White, a close associate of renegade UDA boss Johnny Adair who fled Northern Ireland last month following a violent feud, is thought to be among the first people to be investigated. His home in thick woodland outside Carrickfergus, Co. Antrim, worth an estimated $500,000, has been empty since his departure for Scotland.
Meanwhile, the managing editor of one of Northern Ireland’s most influential nationalist newspapers, the Andersonstown News, has recommended that Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams meet the new chief constable, Hugh Orde, soon. Mairtin O Muilleoir said Adams would do so in his own good time, but that Orde, while he had made some mistakes, appeared to be a new broom and had certainly “gone through loyalism like a dose of salts.”
His welcome for tougher police action against loyalists was shared by East Derry SDLP Assembly member John Dallat, who, speaking in response to the arrests of several loyalists in the Coleraine area of County Derry, said: “I am convinced there is a new determination to assist in bringing to an end the terrible agony which ordinary decent people have endured in this area for far too long.”
Loyalists continue to be active, however, attacking a Catholic home in north Belfast and an overnight bomb attack on the Co. Armagh home of another Catholic family.
A mother and daughter escaped injury when a blast bomb thrown at their Lurgan house exploded at the front door causing minor damage. A second device found in the front yard of the house was defused by army bomb disposal experts.