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27 November 2003 Edition

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Victim's father resigns from Orange Order

The father of a man shot and killed by the UVF earlier this month says he has resigned from the Orange Order because he believes that the man who targeted his son is a fellow member of the organisation.

Speaking earlier this week, John Allen Snr told reporters "I can no longer be a party to any organisation which includes murderers — especially the murderer who set up my son.

"I have been a member of the Orange Order for the past 30 years. I meant no harm to anyone. It was just something I believed in. But now I have discovered — since my son's murder — that I am in the same organisation as the person who organised and prompted Jock's killing.

"I will be handing my Orange sash and Royal Black Perceptory collarette back to both organisations and I will be telling them that, if after all these years, there is room for terrorists in their ranks — there is no room for me and the likes of law-abiding people like me."

Thirty-one-year-old John 'Jock' Allen Jr was killed on the morning of 8 November. He was shot in the head and legs by two masked men at the Ballyclare home he shared with his brother Aaron, and died in hospital a few hours later.

It is believed that Allen may have been killed because of his friendship with pub doorman Trevor Gowdy. Gowdy was attacked by UVF men near a social club in the Monkstown Estate of Newtownabbey on 20 December last. He was struck repeatedly with a hatchet, crowbar and baton but managed to survive the brutal assault.

Gowdy is currently living in England under the Witness Protection Scheme. He intends to return to the Six Counties in the near future to testify against the men who tried to kill him — including UVF boss Mark Haddock, one of several men now charged with his attempted murder.

In the interim, members of Gowdy's family have been forced to leave their homes, fearing for their lives. One relative was targeted by a pipe bomb attack and unionist paramilitaries have also issued threats against Gowdy's friends.

Allen's father revealed this week that his son had been ordered to leave the town by the UVF one month before his death.

In response to the controversy, a spokesman for the Orange Order said that the institution "will now mount a full and thorough investigation into Mr Allen's claims".

Observers will wonder if this investigation will be as "full and thorough" as the one that was supposed to follow the arrests of several Orangemen after they were engaged in serious rioting at Drumcree Church in Portadown in 2002. The violence left 32 members of the PSNI injured — five of them seriously — and was captured on camera by the international media.

After that incident, Grand Master Robert Saulters assured the press and public that anyone involved in the violence would be dealt with by the Order.

"Orangemen who have broken our rules have been suspended and expelled in the past," he sputtered grimly, "and we shall not shirk from similar action in the future. We have no room for men of violence. Those Orangemen at Drumcree who failed to live up to our Christian ideas will be dealt with appropriately..."

However, since that July day in Portadown, the Orange Order has failed to censure any of the rioters involved.

On the contrary, only a few days before the men were to appear in court, Saulters and fellow Orange Order leader Denis Watson attended a rally in support of those charged. Both men were also in attendance during the trial, with one of the accused — leading Orangeman Mark Harbison — thanking the Order for its support during the previous year.

Harbison and 14 of his Orange-sashed colleagues were then handed down suspended sentences and walked away free men.

Garvaghy Road Spokesperson Brendan Mac Cionnaith says that in previous years the Orange Order had also taken no action against those of its members who had engaged in violence or open acts of intimidation against the Catholic community of Portadown.

"We do not expect," he said this week, "that this ambiguity and ambivalence on the part of the Orange Order is likely to change in the aftermath of these convictions."

Commenting on the controversy surrounding Allen Senior's claims, a spokesperson for the Grand Orange Lodge said the door was open for any member of the Order to make a complaint about any other member through the Lodge "privately".

He added: "We would expect Orangemen to stand by the Ten Commandments, especially the one which says thou shalt not kill."

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