THE SO-CALLED “Beast from the East” took over the Ulster Volunteer Force in east Belfast about six years ago and has strengthened his power base since then, according to well-placed loyalist sources. He and some of his senior lieutenants are chiefly responsible for the violence in east Belfast over recent days, they say.
He makes his money mainly from “gangster-on-gangster or bad-on-bad crime”, which is chiefly about drug dealing and extorting other criminals – while also managing to maintain some distance from these activities to keep him, so far, out of prison. How to clip his wings is the challenge for the police and also for other members of the UVF.
That said, what is happening in Short Strand and on the Newtownards Road in east Belfast these past dangerous nights is not about the dissidents. It is about the UVF, which is fomenting the disturbances. And it is primarily about the UVF leader in east Belfast nicknamed the Beast from the East or “Ugly Doris”. The first nom de guerre relates to his east Belfast bailiwick and the second refers to the late Jim Gray, the UDA east Belfast leader or “brigadier” murdered by his own people. He was called Doris Day because of his blond hair and his fondness for Hawaiian shirts, pink jumpers and gold jewellery. The UVF leader is said to resemble Gray only in his strands of blond hair – hence Ugly Doris.
According to senior loyalist sources, the new man, who is in his 40s, has “lost the run of himself” and is becoming increasingly dangerous and, some fear, almost unstable. “He is creating a little empire for himself in east Belfast and is now flexing his muscles,” said one loyalist insider. “He is also partial to cocaine and likes to party . . . He believes he is untouchable.”