IRVINE NAMED IN COLLUSION PROBE INTO BLOODY FEUD WITH LVF
UVF terror boss quizzed over punishment shooting
He’ll be dropped from Policing Board….
Ombudsman report to name him as Special Branch informer
THE Police Ombudsman is to blow the cover of three top UVF men – and them as Special Branch touts. The terrorist trio are UVF overall Godfather John ‘Bunter’ Graham, Harry ‘Harmless’ Stockman and, worst of all, Winston ‘Winky’ Irvine. Shankill UVF mouthpiece Irvine currently sits on a policing and neighbourhood partnership. But now a special dossier compiled by the Police Ombudsman’s office will send shock waves through the loyalist terror gang.
UVF chief Winston ‘Winky’ Irvine is to be unmasked as a Special Branch agent. The 39-year-old terror boss is also facing suspension from the Policing Board after he was arrested and questioned this week in connection with a punishment attack on Craig McCausland. McCausland, later murdered by the UVF in July 2005, was shot in the legs during the attack in 2002 while still a teenager. Woodvale UVF commander Irvine and another man were arrested and questioned in Antrim this week. They were later released and a file has been forwarded to the PPS. The Sunday World also understands the West Belfast terror boss is one of a number of prominent paramilitary leaders who will feature in a forthcoming Police Ombudsman report – others include overall UVF leader John ‘Bunter’ Graham and Shankill commanders Joe McGaw and ‘Harmless’ Harry Stockman.
The report, due to be published in the coming months, is the result of a near two year investigation into the activities of the terror group during a feud between the rival UVF and LVF in 2005, and is expected to uncover a nest of police agents operating at the highes level. According to well placed sources the revelations will mirror details of wholsale police collusion in the UVF’s notorious Mount Vernon unit which was exposed by then Police Ombudsman Nuala O’Loan in 2007. The forthcoming report will be regarded as highly significant as it will implicate high ranking paramilitary bosses including Irvine, who remains at the head of UVF ‘B’ Company in the Woodvale area. Irvine has reinvented himself as a community worker earning in excess of £25,000 in public money. He also secured a seat on the Policing Board despite his paramilitary connections. Add to that his role as a member of the North and West Belfast Parades Forum and his prominent role as a prominent role as a frontline spokesman during the ongoing Camp Twatdell Avenue Orange parade dispute. Balding Irvine, once famously pictured throwing a crate during serious street disturbances, pictured below on the left, likes to present himself as a respectable politician with the PUP – the political wing of the UVF. But his parmilitary past and his ongoing senior role within the UVF that is set to come back to hunt him. The Sunday World understands the Policing Board will be obliged to suspend him pending the outcome of the PPS deliberations on whether to press charges. More damaging will be the revelations contained in the Ombudsman’s report. Dozens of statements have been gathered and it is believed Irvine is one of a number who have been clearly implicated as having worked for the police. Major questions emerged surrounding the lack of arrests of UVF personnel during the UVF/LVF feud. “There’s no hiding place for Winky, his police handliers can’t protect him any more,” a senior loyalist source told the Sunday World. “We know from what happened in Mount Vernon that the UVF was allowed to operate with impunity and it will be the same in West and North Belfast. “Winky’s unit was up to its neck in the feud.” Irvine, who has a conviction for his part in an unseemly drunken brawl during a visit to the World War 1 cemeteries in France, was Commander of the UVF’s B Company when a then 20-year-old Craig McCausland was murdered. It was at the height of the marching season in 2005 when members of the Woodvale unit burst through the door of the house he shared with his girlfriend and her two children, shooting him dead spattering the children with his blood. Craig, who lost his mother to a loyalist killer when he was a child, was also father to a two-year-old son. No one has ever been convicted of the killing.
According to security sources the UVF’s feud with the LVF was ‘accommodated’ by the security forces. There was significant pressure on the security services to take a tougher stance with the LVF – notorious for sectarian murder – to remove them from the equation. Founded by UVF outcast Billy Wright they were seen as a major obstacle to the developing peace process. “The UVF was given ‘informal’ approval to take on the LVF,” said our source. “The (British) government wanted the LVF out of the way, they weren’t fussy about who did it or how it was done. “In other words the UVF had carte blanche to do what they wanted.” Four people lost their lives in the bloodletting, all of whom were alleged to have connections with the LVF – falsely in Craig McCausland’s case.
As a result of these attacks the LVF announced in October 2005 that its units had been ordered to cease their activity and that it was disbanding. Throughout the feud the government resisted calls to declare the UVF ceasefire had been breached, despite four murders being attributed to the terror group. They later reversed that decision when loyalists opened fire on an army patrol. Should Irvine be charged in connection with the Craig McCausland assault, it will be a major embarrassment for prominent unionist politicians and leading members of the Orange Order who have repeatedly shared public platforms with the UVF chief during the parades crisis. It is an embarrassment that will be compounded with the publication of the Ombudsman’s report.
With many thanks to: Richard Sullivan, Sunday World.