The Commander of the London Brigade of the outlawed Ulster Defence Association (UDA) Frank Portinari has issued a series of warnings that he and his members would be prepared to participate in the fractious stand-off between Republican and Loyalist marches in Glasgow.
According to one local newspaper, last Friday’s stand-off developed into a “full-scale riot” when Loyalists and Republicans threw rocks and other objects at one another at a march by the James Connolly flute band who were marching under the banner of ‘Irish Unity’.
The paper also claims that some marchers gathered under the banner of the militant group Saoradh, which they claim is linked to the New IRA.
No longer the open Commander of the UDA, Portinari has publicly declared himself retired and attempted to morph his London UDA into another outlet of the Ulster Political Research Group (UPRG), which is the name used by the ‘mainstream’ UDA. In keeping with this move, Portinari has also declared himself a ‘researcher’ instead of a Commander. This is in line with the UDA’s new modus operandi, given they are now in bed with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP)- the party which you may recall propping up Teresa May’s government.
Despite being the London Commander, Portinari is in effect what the UDA call the ‘mainland’ Commander, which is in reality and geographically, Britain. Other UDA groupings in Britain dissipated or fell away after the ceasefire and Good Friday Agreement. Portinari’s reward for obedience during this period of splintering saw him travel with the UDA leadership to meet the Queen in Dublin during 2011.
However, away from prying eyes Portinari and his gang have maintained their structure. Although most of it is simply ceremonial and heavy drinking Portinari does command a London pipe band that when on parade, somehow allows the gang to unfurl a number of illegal paramilitary flags, including that of the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF), the nom de guerre the UDA used for most of its murderous acts.
Writing in a private Facebook group reserved for UDA members and supporters in Britain, Portinari leaves no one in any doubt that he is still the commander of the UDA in Britain, or that he maintains the right to call on some of his three hundred or so followers to follow him into confrontation.
The events last weekend and the planned ‘re-match’ this weekend has the convicted gunrunner preparing his troops to go to Glasgow if not this weekend, then certainly over the next few weeks when a series of marches are planned.
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