King Rat defies death threat

The leading Protestant militant Billy Wright defied the loyalist paramilitary death threat against him at the weekend by appearing at a loyalist function to declare that he had no intention of leaving Northern Ireland.

A woman was injured in Belfast last night in an incident that appeared to be connected to the Wright affair. A small explosive device was thrown at a house at Dunmurry, south Belfast. Locals said one of the occupants was the mother of Alex Kerr, a loyalist threatened together with Mr Wright. The injured woman was treated for minor injuries and shock.

Mr Wright's stance has upped the stakes in the test of willpower between him and his former associates in the Ulster Volunteer Force, who last week ordered him to leave by midnight on Saturday or face "summary justice".

Mr Wright, a former UVF prisoner who is known as "King Rat", appeared dressed in a shirt emblazoned with the words "Mid-Ulster UVF - for God and Ulster - simply the best". He claims widespread support in his dispute with the leadership of the UVF and the other loyalist paramilitary organisations.

Mr Wright was cheered by more than 200 people who had gathered at a club in his home town of Portadown, Co Armagh, for a function to raise funds for the family of a UVF prisoner. He declared: "I believe that the huge crowd vindicates my belief that what I am saying is correct and my assessment of the situation is correct." He pledged to "defend the loyalist cause as long as I live".

The Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble at the weekend recommended mediation in the affair, which has come to threaten the loyalist ceasefire and could affect the inter-party talks due to re-start next Monday.

Appealing against any use of violence, Mr Trimble said: "The loyalist paramilitary groups have, by sustaining their ceasefire, gained the high ground and the political parties associated with them have been enabled to make a valuable contribution to the political process. These achievements should not be put at risk."

Members of Mr Trimble's party and of the Rev Ian Paisley's Democratic Unionist party have questioned whether the smaller loyalist parties which have associations with the UVF and other groups should be allowed back to the conference table while death threats are being made.

Concern has also been voiced by the Irish government, with the Taoiseach, John Bruton, calling for the lifting of the death threat. He said: "Politics is a democratic business, where one must be willing to allow others to express their views in an open and free way."

There are also worries that the Wright affair could spark off a feud between the Mid-Ulster UVF and other loyalists. The extent of the support for Mr Wright is unclear, though many loyalist activists are evidently uneasy about the idea of exiling or killing someone whom they regard as a stalwart of Protestant paramilitarism.

Billy Hutchinson, one of the leaders of the UVF-inspired Progressive Unionist party, has also been warned that his life was in danger from the Mid-Ulster UVF. Mr Wright's supporters are planning a rally in support of him in Portadown on Wednesday night.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
i100 In this video, the late actor Leonard Nimoy explains how he decided to use the gesture for his character
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
Down-to-earth: Winstone isn't one for considering his 'legacy'
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sauce Recruitment: Retail Planning Manager - Home Entertainment UK

salary equal to £40K pro-rata: Sauce Recruitment: Are you available to start a...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - London - up to £40,000

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Creative Front-End Developer - Claph...

Recruitment Genius: Product Quality Assurance Technologist - Hardline & Electric

£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The role in this successful eco...

Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000 QA Tes...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower