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
Jennifer Lawrence was among the stars allegedly hacked
peopleActress and 100 others on 'master list' after massive hack
Sport
Radamel Falcao
footballManchester United agree loan deal for Monaco striker Falcao
Sport
Louis van Gaal, Radamel Falcao, Arturo Vidal, Mats Hummels and Javier Hernandez
footballFalcao, Hernandez, Welbeck and every deal live as it happens
Sport
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Voices
A man shoots at targets depicting a portrait of Russian President Vladimir Putin, in a shooting range in the center of the western Ukrainian city of Lviv
voicesIt's cowardice to pretend this is anything other than an invasion
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
Arts and Entertainment
booksNovelist takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush
music
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

PPC Co-Ordinator – Permanent - West Sussex – £24-£30k

£24000 - £30000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Are you a Marketin...

Senior Asset Manager

£70000 - £75000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Katie Robinson +44 (...

Special Needs Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Birmingham: Special needs teachers required! Sh...

EBD Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Birmingham: EBD teachers re West Midlands

Day In a Page

Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor