Tuesday, March 16, 1999 Published at 15:19 GMT
LVF link to Red Hand terrorists
The LVF has a reputation for ruthlessness
Renegade terrorist group the Red Hand Defenders, which claims to have killed a Catholic man in Belfast, is being linked to the Loyalist Volunteer Force.
Brian Service, 35, was shot dead as he walked home in north Belfast early on Saturday.
And it has admitted being behind the bomb blast that killed RUC Constable Frankie O'Reilly after rioting by loyalists in Portadown, County Armagh in September.
The Red Hand Defenders emerged during the Drumcree crisis this summer when the loyalist Orange Order was banned from marching down its traditional route in Portadown.
BBC Ireland Correspondent Mark Devenport said: "There are some security sources who say this group is not very different from the Loyalist Volunteer Force.
"But whether they are or not, clearly they are a dangerous faction."
The LVF says it has abandoned violence for good.
In a statement in August it said it was declaring an "absolute, utter finish" to its terror activities, the first such announcement from a paramilitary organisation in the province.
And last week an LVF spokesman reportedly told the Times newspaper: "The group is finished. The war is over."
Northern Ireland Secretary Mo Mowlam is wary that the tactic may be a ploy to get its prisoners released early.
The LVF, formed in 1996, soon established a reputation for ruthlessness, including the murder of a young Roman Catholic girl as she slept beside her Protestant boyfriend.
Its aim has been to defend - by terror - British rule over Northern Ireland against the Irish Republican Army and other pro-united Ireland groups.
But since Wright's murder in the Maze Prison last year, its size has declined rapidly and is currently thought to have little more than 50 members.
Constable O'Reilly, 30, a father of three children, died in October after clinging to life for five weeks.
He was hurt when a loyalist mob bombarded police with missiles during rioting in Portadown.
The trouble followed the protest by Orangemen demanding the right to march from Drumcree parish church along the Garvaghy Road, which passes a nationalist estate.