The killing of Ian Ogle in East Belfast’s Cluan Place in the same week that four members of the UDA were sentenced to life imprisonment for their involvement in the killing of Colin Horner, is indicative of how loyalist militias continue to hold sway over and intimidate people within the community from which they hail.
The two dead men were well known in the world of loyalism which allows for the possibility that both died as a result of loyalist feuding. True or not, of more importance is why there are still thriving bands of loyalist militias that are able to feud and kill members of the unionist community in the first place.
Attacked by five men, Ogle sustained a fractured skull and eleven stab wounds to his back. Frenzied, vicious and very public. By all accounts he was no saint and indeed was described as lacking in saintly qualities by someone who knew him. If saints are like priests, then lacking the credentials for sainthood is laudable. There is no doubt, Ogle rubbed shoulders with more than a few unsavoury characters and it seems likely he knew his killers. At one time he had been instructed by the UVF to turn up by appointment to be punished which he refused to do. That raises the possibility that he was murdered by appointment, possibly lured to his death. This was most definitely not stranger danger.
The UVF has been placed in the frame for his killing but has denied any involvement. This has been rubbished by his daughter Toni Johnston, who very convincingly provided the BBC with a history of the threats and intimidation Ogle and his family had endured. For eighteen months he had feared being killed and was deeply worried about the safety of his son. Ms Johnston said that while she did not believe the UVF had sanctioned the killing of her father she was certain they were using the cover of the UVF for their nefarious deeds.
What I have to say to the UVF, what I have to ask from the UVF, is why these thugs were able to terrorise this community for so long. I am not blaming the organisation as a whole, but they were using the name of the UVF. I blame the UVF for protecting them.
There are echoes here of the killing of Robert McCartney in a bar about less than half a mile from the scene of Ogle’s killing, an incident that saw the PSNI initiate a prosecution designed to fail.
A variant of PSNI complicity is also at play in the backdrop to the killing of Ogle. Although the force is making its obligatory call for assistance from the public, the same public understand only too well – because they are victims of the process – that the PSNI has entered into a Faustian pact with loyalist militias. Despite the belief from within unionism that "a policing operation could put loyalists out of business" there is not the slightest indication of anything of the sort.
A University of Ulster Report in 2011 concluded that PSNI inertia was largely responsible for this stasis. The PSNI are not inert however when it comes to stop and search, house raids and arrests within the nationalist community. For the Police Service of Northern Inertia, being inert is a choice. A resident from a working class loyalist community cited in the University of Ulster report pointed out the consequences of inertia.
I would say every area is the same. Every area has got a paramilitary influence . . . and the politicians, the bosses in the PSNI are burying their heads. I live in a Loyalist working class area and it (policing) hasn’t changed one bit and, if anything, it has got worse … This paramilitary influence has been brushed under the carpet by the politicians and the police don’t deal with it and it’s business as usual.Same old, same old, move along, nothing to see here. The thin blue line will place itself between people and harm but only if in doing so it is not harmful to the peace process and the careers that racket has spawned.
Anthony McIntyre blogs @ The Pensive Quill. Follow Anthony McIntyre on Twitter @AnthonyMcIntyre