Loyalists arrested during a raid on a Belfast bar were meeting to plan an end to all Ulster Defence Association crime and violence, a court was told today.
A barrister made the claim during a scathing attack on Northern Ireland Chief Constable Hugh Orde’s attempt to have alleged senior UDA man Ihab Shoukri sent back to prison.
The bid to have his bail revoked came after Shoukri (aged 31) was arrested along with 16 other men when police stormed a pub in the north of the city during a suspected dress rehearsal for a paramilitary show of strength.
Although 11 of the men have been charged and remanded in custody, Shoukri was released while further inquiries were carried out.
At Belfast Crown Court today, the judge was asked to examine if he was in breach of bail conditions imposed while he waited to go on trial for membership of the outlawed UDA.
But Arthur Harvey QC insisted his client had been downstairs in the Alexandra Bar in the Tiger’s Bay district when a specialist police unit fired up to 70 CS gas canisters into the building in a bid to capture those at a meeting in an upstairs room.
He told the court: “It’s somewhat ironic that the plea had been advanced by police that the individuals in the upstairs bar were involved in some sort of show of strength.
“In fact they were attending a meeting, the result of which was to announce the end of all criminal activities by the UDA.
“Police have documents to prove that.”