Loyalist anger over ‘two-tier justice’

Ken Wilkinson, PUP...Loyalist Protest at Antrim PSNI Station
Ken Wilkinson, PUP...Loyalist Protest at Antrim PSNI Station

Some 50 loyalists gathered outside Antrim PSNI station yesterday to protest about five arrests this week which they allege are linked to an expected supergrass trial.

Ken Wilkinson, of the PUP, told the News Letter that the protest was organised by Families Against Supergrass Trials.

“We are very concerned about arrests this week relating to the testimony of another supergrass, from Newtownabbey,” he said.

Yesterday and Tuesday there were a total of five arrests, two in north Belfast, and the rest in the Shankill, Antrim and Templepatrick areas, he said. The five were taken to the holding centre at Antrim PSNI station.

One of the loyalists was arrested in Glencairn at the top of the Shankill Road on Tuesday.

“Although he had been released under the Good Friday Agreement, five or six Land Rovers with heavily armed officers arrested him,” said Mr Wilkinson.

“This is a two-tier justice system – we have had immunity for the republican on the runs and then the arrest of all these loyalists. It is not acceptable.

“Then Gerry Adams has had the audacity to have his solicitor write to the PSNI to ask if they want to talk to him about Jean McConville’s murder.”

Within the past week, prominent Belfast republican Ivor Bell has been charged with aiding and abetting the IRA murder of the mother-of-10 in Belfast in 1972.

He denies any role in the abduction or murder of Mrs McConville.

The police case against Bell is based on an interview he allegedly gave to researchers at a US college, a court has heard.

Other republicans interviewed for the Boston College project have alleged Mr Adams had a role in ordering Mrs McConville’s death.

Mr Adams firmly denies any link to the murder.

“There has been this onslaught against loyalism – is this arrest of Ivor Bell supposed to be seen as an equaliser?” said Mr Wilkinson.

He said that Belfast loyalist Bobby Rodgers was convicted last year for murdering a 19-year-old Catholic girl in Belfast in 1973 after his palm prints were found on a hijacked taxi.

“Compare that with John Downey whose fingerprints were found on tape and parking tickets at the scene of the IRA Hyde Park bombing,” he said.

“One is jailed and the other walks free – this is two-tier justice. Republicans at the present time are like a protected species. We are not against justice, but it must be on an even-handed basis.”

The PSNI said they were aware of yesterday’s planned protest.

A spokesperson said: “The police service remains committed to treating everyone equally before the law.”