Loyalists out of step with changes?

With another death attributed to Loyalist paramilitaries over the weekend, the end of the IRA campaign is throwing light on that (lesser known) side of the paramilitary equation. Henry McDonald’s excellent piece in the Observer magazine yesterday, details exactly how the shady world of Loyalist paramilitarism has moved from its heartland and into North Down’s ‘Gold Coast’ – with tragic results for at least one family.

The Dorrians are Catholics living in a village that is largely Protestant, on the edge of a seaside unionist town that has been relatively untouched by 35 years of incipient civil war. They stress that during that time they were never subjected to abuse or violence, even in the darkest days of the conflict.

Yet, after coming through three decades of sectarian slaughter, Lisa Dorrian has joined the ranks of Ulster’s ‘disappeared’ – those who have been abducted, in some cases tortured, murdered and then buried in the tightest of secrecy by paramilitary groups, mainly the IRA. Lisa’s disappearance, however, is different in one crucial sense – she is the first person to be ‘disappeared’ by loyalist terrorists.

Later, McDonald notes the action being taken by the UVF, a rival to the LVF – the organisation widely suspected of her disappearnence:

Meanwhile, the UVF has set up its own ‘inquiry’ into Lisa’s disappearance, which is running in parallel with the official police investigation. In a macabre twist to the tragedy, and apparently without irony, the UVF has appointed convicted murderer Samuel Cooke to head its ‘investigation’. He was one of five loyalists jailed in 1994 for the sectarian murder of 26-year-old Catholic mother Anne Marie Smyth in 1992. Her killers strangled her and cut her throat, after she was lured to a party in east Belfast by a group of UVF men drinking in a local loyalist social club.

Mark Dornan, the PSNI’s senior investigating officer on the case, is scathing about the loyalists’ self-appointed ‘policing’ role in the tragedy. ‘These gangs have no moral or legal authority and they will end up causing even more crime,’ he says. At least 150 officers, ranging from underwater search teams to behavioural analysts, have spent the past four months trying to find Lisa. Yet despite having spoken to nearly 1,200 people, the PSNI is yet to achieve a breakthrough. Although Dornan will not be drawn on the killers’ skills in covering their tracks, he – like other detectives – knows that some of those responsible learned their trade in the paramilitaries.

  • irishman

    Once again Ahoghill reveals the hypocrisy of unionist politicians and their focus on IRA weapons. More anti-catholic attacks in Paisley country- yet, curiously, the MP remains quiet. Little wonder when one considers the assailants are merely asnwering Paisley Jnr. call…..

  • DaithiO

    It’s amazing that we can read so many articles and news stories where unionist politicians say they are unable to accept the recent republican pledge to decommission in good faith, and the same people are conspicuous by their silence regarding terrorist acts still happening on their own doorsteps.

    Where is the worlds press that championed the cause of the McCartney family because there was thought to be political mileage in it ? The Dorrian family deserve the same support, and people living in these areas deserve lives free of intimidation and racketeering.

    Let’s hear the DUP use their mandate to protect their constituents instead of tripping up progress.

  • Mick

    One thing that seems common to both cases is the apparent inability of any political party to achieve justice when the participants, witnesses, and the wider communities in which each crime took place seem unable or unwilling to speak up.

  • levee

    The difference is the Dorrian family seem to be supporting the unofficial investigation – I think I remember an interview with Lisa’s mother where she said as long as she got information, she didn’t care where it came from.

    And these ‘investigators’ – poachers turned gamekeeper?

  • london st

    the chief unofficial uvf investigator was charged with battering another Catholic woman to death on the Ravenhill Road – Anne Marie Smyth

    I suppose he has experience!!

  • rick

    The Anne Marie Smyth murder was a particularly horrific killing.

    Miss Smyth fell in with the wrong crowd when visiting Belfast and when a uvf element discoved she was a Catholic she was taken from the Hillfoot Glentoran supporters club to a house nearby, where she was beaten for a sustained period in an upstairs bedroom by 5 members of the uvf before being taken to waste ground and had her throat cut back to her spine.

  • bertie


    Was this murder many years ago?

  • rick


    Feb 1992

    It was the first time she had ever been to Belfast

  • susan

    So the people of the Garnerville estate were liberated from the lvf by Samuel cooke, a cut throat killer who cut a young mothers throat right back to her spine.

    It’s a funny kind of liberation, especially for women within the area.

  • synergy

    I dont think the Dorrian family are supporting the “other” investigation as they are working very closely with the police. I do think if it was my sister, i would welcome information wherever it came from. Would you not??? Even the police would be glad of information as to what happened, no matter what the source. This is how things get solved….talk on the street.

  • sarah

    I personally would find it difficult to believe anything that came from the mouth of a man who beat a young woman unconscious before slitting her throat.

    One of those who is alleged to have been involved in the death of Lisa Dorrian is a member of the red hand commando, which is part of the larger uvf grouping.

    uvf cut throat killer, Samuel Cooke is a comrade of this man, hes hardly going to tout on him