Ulster awaits backlash after IRA guns down loyalist

THE IRA's assassination yesterday of a leading loyalist pushed up the sectarian temperature in Northern Ireland and provoked fears of violent retaliation as thousands of Protestants take to the streets today for annual parades.

An IRA gunman shot dead Ray Smallwoods, 44, who was associated with the illegal Ulster Defence Association, as he walked to his car outside his home in Lisburn, Co Antrim. He was hit by three blasts from a shotgun. The UDA said, in an ominous statement after the shooting, that the IRA would bear the responsibility for any retaliation carried out.

An IRA group of four men and a woman held an elderly couple - who are both in poor health - prisoners over night in their home before emerging at 9am yesterday to shoot Mr Smallwoods as he left his house near by.

The killing followed a gun attack on the home of the Rev William McCrea, the Democratic Unionist Party MP for mid-Ulster, late on Sunday night. No one was injured in that incident, when some 40 shots were fired into the MP's home at Magherafelt, Co Londonderry.

Today, 12 July, is the high point of the Protestant marching season, when tens of thousands of Orangemen parade throughout Northern Ireland. RUC Superintendent Bill Scott said there was great concern about revenge attacks. 'We will be doing our utmost tonight and in the succeeding days to thwart any further attacks,' he said.

Even before yesterday's murder, security forces were concerned about retaliation following the weekend death of a leading Ulster Volunteer Force man, Trevor King, who died in hospital almost a month after being shot by the republican INLA.

Mr Smallwoods had served half of a 15-year prison sentence for his own part in an attempted political assassination. He was one of a UDA group that shot and almost killed Bernadette McAliskey, the one-time nationalist MP for mid-Ulster, in 1980. After his release from jail he maintained his loyalist links. The UDA yesterday denied an IRA claim that he was a member of the organisation's Inner Council, but he is believed to have been one of the group's leading political advisers. He was a prominent member of a small political grouping, the Ulster Democratic Party (UDP), and in recent years frequently appeared on television commenting on and explaining loyalist paramilitary moves. Married with three teenage sons, he was an unsuccessful candidate in recent council elections.

Observers were yesterday puzzling over how such a provocative killing could conceivably fit into the republican movement's professed commitment to a peace process.

The IRA has killed five members of the UDP in recent years. One leading UDP figure, Gary McMichael, whose father was killed by the IRA four years ago, said Mr Smallwoods had paid his debt to society by his years in prison and was dedicated to finding a way out of the conflict. He added: 'There's going to a lot of angry people out there. I think it's going to be difficult to control.'

Ken Kerr, the UDP organiser in Londonderry and a close colleague of Mr Smallwoods, said: 'If I called for no retaliation, as sure as night turns to day, there is sombody who is going to retaliate and no matter what I say nothing will change that.'

Sir Patrick Mayhew, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, warned the IRA: 'However brutal you are and however disgusting your behaviour, every time you do something like this it simply confirms the opposition of all the decent people of Ulster to what you are trying to do.'

Two men are in custody for questioning about the attack on the home of Mr McCrea. Some of the bullets, which were fired from a passing car, pierced the toughened security windows. Eleven people were in the house at the time, but Mr McCrea was absent, having been delayed after a church service.

He said the hand of God had delayed him, adding that if he had arrived home at his normal time the gunmen would have seen him: 'I would have been absolutely riddled,' he said.

A Belfast High Court judge yesterday blocked a coroner's attempt to gain access to the secret Stalker report into six fatal shootings by the RUC in 1982. He cited national security and added that the documents were not relevant to the coroner's inquiry.

(Photograph omitted)

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty

Arts and Entertainment
Life and Style
Designer Oscar de la Renta takes a bow after showing his Spring 2015 collection in September, his last show before his death
fashionThe passing of the legendary designer has left a vacancy: couturier to America’s royalty, says fashion editor Alexander Fury
Life and Style

Company reveals $542m investment in start-up building 'a rocket ship for the mind'

Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
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

IT Project Manager

Competitive: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsford a...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

IT Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why