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
News
Davis says: 'My career has been about filling a niche - there were fewer short actors and fewer roles – but now I'm being offered all kinds of things'
PeopleWarwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
Voices
A Russian hunter at the Medved bear-hunting lodge in Siberia
Save the tigerWildlife charities turn to those who kill animals to help save them
News
i100
Sport
Frank Lampard will pass Billy Wright and equal Bobby Charton’s caps tally of 106 caps against
sportFormer Chelsea midfielder in Etihad stopgap before New York contract
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
The first film introduced Daniel Radcliffe to our screens, pictured here as he prepares to board the train to Hogwarts for the first time.
booksHow reading Harry Potter helps children grow up to be gay-friendly
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Aladdin is performed at the Tony Awards in New York in June
theatreBrit producer Lythgoe makes kids' musical comedy a Los Angeles hit
Sport
Usain Bolt of Jamaica smiles and shakes hands with a competitor after Jamaica won their first heat in the men's 4x100m relay
sport
News
Chancellor George Osborne, along with the Prime Minister, have been 'complacently claiming the economy is now fixed', according to shadow Chancellor Ed Balls
i100... which is awkward, because he is their boss, after all
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

(Senior) IT Support Engineer - 1st-3rd Line Support

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful IT service provider that has bee...

Wind Farm Civil Design Engineer

£55000 - £65000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Principal Marine Mechanical Engineer

£60000 - £70000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Principle Geotechnical Engineer

£55000 - £65000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Day In a Page

Save the Tiger: Meet the hunters tasked with protecting Russia's rare Amur tiger

Hunters protect Russia's rare Amur tiger

In an unusual move, wildlife charities have enlisted those who kill animals to help save them. Oliver Poole travels to Siberia to investigate
Transfers: How has your club fared in summer sales?

How has your club fared in summer sales?

Who have bagged the bargain buys and who have landed the giant turkeys
Warwick Davis: The British actor on Ricky Gervais, how the Harry Potter set became his office, and why he'd like to play a spy

'I'm a realist; I know how hard this business is'

Warwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
The best swim shorts for men: Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer

The best swim shorts for men

Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer
Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

Meet the couple blamed for bringing Lucifer into local politics
Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup