'Beast of East' gains support after rioting
The UVF leader known as the 'Beast of the East', who is being blamed for the invasion of a nationalist enclave in east Belfast last week, has enhanced his standing within the terrorist organisation through his actions, sources in the unionist community say.
The 48-year-old gang leader has received public support from major UVF players in the wake of last week's rioting around the Mountpottinger/Short Strand area of Belfast.
Two years ago, the UVF commander, who cannot be named because of legal reasons, had reportedly fallen out with UVF Shankill leadership over drug dealing and racketeering activities he controlled.
He was supposedly about to be kicked out of the illegal terrorist organisation then but used his paramilitary muscle in the area to retain control.
Last Octoberit was reported that he had been given two months to wind down the east Belfast UVF battalion, but, as events last week showed, that never happened.
Last week UVF leaders of north and west Belfast were prominent at the east Belfast trouble spot and the 'Beast of the East' was being hailed as the man who had defended the Protestant community from nationalist attacks.
The 'beast' remains financially well off, with reportedly sufficient funds to holiday in a Barbados villa or in a chateau in Tuscany. It has also been reported that he purchased a €45,000 caravan on the Costa Blanca.
"He is back in the fold with the Shankill leadership and because of what he did in east Belfast last week may now be unsackable," said one resident. "Local Protestant people have been subjected to months of attacks and they're not too bothered about what happened to the nationalist residents of Mountpottinger. They think that he has brought this to a head and it will all stop now. We'll see."