Page last updated at 10:18 GMT, Friday, 6 June 2008 11:18 UK

Shoukri 'saved from longer term'

Ihab Shoukri
Ihab Shoukri had pleaded guilty to UDA membership

North Belfast loyalist Ihab Shoukri has been jailed for 15 months for his role in a UDA show of strength at a bar.

Shoukri, 34, from Westland Drive, admitted being a member of the UDA and supporting the loyalist paramilitary organisation.

Gary McKenzie, 36, from Clare Heights, Belfast, was also jailed for 15 months on the same charges.

The judge told Belfast Crown Court the peace process had saved the men from lengthy jail sentences.

Shoukri and five other men were arrested at the Alexandra Bar in York Street in March 2006.

Two other defendants, Alan McClean, 21, of Westland Drive, and George McHenry, 46, from Ardoyne Road were each given a 12-month suspended sentence.

The then-owner of the bar, John Davis, 50, of Glebe Manor, was given a two-year probation order and told to attend alcohol rehabilitation sessions.

Jailing Shoukri and McKenzie, the judge said while the courts sentenced according to the law, "that exercise does not take place in a vacuum".

"In my view it would be unrealistic for the court to close its eyes to the significant changes that have taken place in this society since these offences were committed," he said.

"It is indisputable that the restoration of local political institutions, upon an agreed basis, has coincided with the fundamental decline, if not virtual disappearance, of overt terrorist activity carried on by republican and loyalist paramilitaries."

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