Police have successfully applied for a change in the bail conditions of two men charged with helping to organise a meeting in support of the UDA/UFF. The two, Garry Mackenzie, 35, and Alan John McClean, 19, were among 17 men arrested when police raided the Alexandra Bar in last March and had been staying at an approved address. Ihab Shoukri was also arrested during that raid, but the bail he was on at that time wasn’t revoked and those charges were dropped. Later, however, new charges relating to the Alexandra raid emerged, and he was refused bail. Shoukri has since been kept in custody without bail and a variety of reasons given, most recently on January 8th. In contrast, the two today were given three weeks to leave Northern Ireland.
The reason, Crown lawyer Charles McKay said, was that the lives of both men were at risk following death threats from what he described as the “mainstream UDA”.
“Police believe they would be a target wherever they lived in Northern Ireland and a great deal of manpower is being expended safeguarding them,” Mr McKay said.
That would be death threats from the “mainstream UDA” referred to here.. presumably..Also from the BBC report
A defence lawyer questioned the validity of the death threats but Mr Justice Weatherup said he accepted that police were satisfied there was a continuing and serious threat to the men’s lives.
He said the court had to take account of the threat to the men and also to the public should violence break out and on balance he had decided to require them to live outside Northern Ireland where the risk to their lives would be diminished.
It’s a question I’ve asked before but is this really the right balance? It’s worth considering afresh in light of the Faustian Pact we appear to have been left with.