UDA: Murdered chief was a spy

Murdered loyalist Alan McCullough was a military intelligence spy who double-crossed both factions of a feuding terror organisation, his killers claimed tonight.

As detectives continued to question a man about the murder, the Ulster Defence Association also accused McCullough of being heavily involved in four assassinations.

The paramilitary grouping provoked a wave of revulsion for killing McCullough, a former ally of ousted loyalist Johnny Adair, after apparently agreeing to lift a death sentence against him.

The 21-year-old fled to England after the UDA drove supporters of Adair’s ruthless C Company unit out of Northern Ireland at the height of the internecine war.

But in a statement issued tonight the UDA claimed it wanted to set the record straight “once and for all“.

It said: “Alan McCullough was an MI5 agent who “Judased” both the UDA and his murdering mates in C Company who were exiled from Northern Ireland.

“McCullough was military commander of the notorious, now defunct, C Company who gave the orders for four murders, numerous gun and bomb attacks and death threats throughout Northern Ireland.”

A brutal power-struggle between Adair and his rival UDA commanders saw four men shot dead either side of the New Year.

Among those killed were the organisation’s hardline South-East Antrim brigadier John “Grug” Gregg and his associate Robert Carson near Belfast docks.

As Adair languished behind bars, his supporters were forced to quit their Lower Shankill stronghold during a violent purge by mainstream UDA men out to avenge Gregg’s death.

The organisation later called a 12-month ceasefire in a bid to restore its tattered image.

McCullough, C Company’s military commander, only returned to his west Belfast home last month following negotiations with senior loyalists in the city.

Two weeks later, however, he vanished after being collected at his home by two of the UDA’s top men.

A massive police hunt ended on Friday when a body found in a shallow grave in Newtownabbey, just outside north Belfast, was identified as the missing loyalist.

The UDA later admitted responsibility for the killing.

The discovery brought new agony for his mother, Barbara, whose husband, UDA chief William McCullough was shot dead by republicans in 1981.

She pleaded with her son not to trust the organisation despite being given assurances that it was safe to come home.

But the UDA stressed his crimes were too severe for him to be given a reprieve.

He had organised bomb attacks linked to the feud on Crangles Bar on the Cavehill Road and the Ballysillan Arms in Ligoniel on the same night earlier this year, it was claimed. No-one was seriously injured in either bombing.

Along with the Gregg and Carson murders, the UDA also claimed McCullough was linked to the December killing of Army porter David Cupples as he walked to Girdwood barracks in north Belfast.

He was heavily involved in the shooting of Jonathan Stewart at a Boxing Night party in Manor Street as well, the UDA claimed.

The statement added: “He was positively identified by community workers in north Belfast during vicious attacks on homes and vehicles in the Westland estate last January by C Company.

“Alan McCullough’s name should not be mentioned in the same context as his late father, William ’Bucky’ McCullough, who would never have contemplated murdering fellow loyalists.

“Bucky McCullough is a loyalist icon and very much revered within the loyalist community.

“He will always be remembered for vastly different reasons.”

A senior member of the UDA-affiliated Ulster Political Research Group who asked not to be named, claimed the killing did not impact on its ceasefire.

He said: “No murder can be condoned, but it was everybody’s understanding that there would be no pardon given to the murderers of Robert Carson and John Gregg.”

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