Category: Archive

Latest outburst in loyalist feud leaves 4 dead

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Anne Cadwallader

BELFAST — Four men were shot dead in quick succession over a six-day outburst of bloodshed last week as a vicious tit-for-tat cycle of the continuing loyalist feud between the UDA and UVF broke out in the north of the city.

Of the four, two belonged to each group. Backstage talks are on to prevent more deaths, although the situation is still volatile. Three of the men were shot dead in particularly horrific circumstances, being mown down in front of members of their families.

Loyalists are also being blamed for the maiming of an RUC man outside a County Down police station.

The officer was moving a traffic cone early Wednesday morning in Castlewellan, Co. Down, when the bomb exploded. He lost a leg and two fingers.

At first, dissident republicans were blamed, but the RUC later said the device bore the hallmarks of previous loyalist bombings and it’s now thought dissident loyalists were involved in a protest against a police crackdown in the area.

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The loyalist feud has largely been contained to the North Belfast area, but paramilitaries from East Antrim are also believed to be involved.

The most recent spate of bloodletting began on Saturday, Oct. 25, when David Greer, a 21-year-old member of the UDA, was shot dead.

Three days later, Bertie Rice, 63, was beaten with baseball bats before he was shot in the head in front of his ailing wife. The dead man had been interned for UVF activity in the early 1970s but had moved to South Africa and only returned home nine months ago.

He had been doing volunteer work alongside Billy Hutchinson of the PUP and had gone home to try to sort out his wife’s pension entitlements when he was savagely beaten and shot at close range.

The next to die was Tommy English of the UDA, a mere six hours later. He had been deeply involved in the group’s paramilitary activities but had been ill and had taken no active role in more than a year.

English had been a member of the UDP’s Stormont talks team and had met President Clinton at the White House during the 1998 St. Patrick’s Day festivities.

English’s wife, Doreen, was pistol-whipped by her husband’s killers.

English’s death did not long go unavenged as the following night, Nov. 1, gunmen shot dead Mark Quail of the UVF.

Quail had been a leading member of the UVF’s notorious Mount Vernon gang, a byword for sectarianism and lack of discipline, even by the UVF’s standards. His killers emptied a gun into his body.

As he lay on the floor of his Rathcoole flat, the UVF man’s father rushed in to find his son bleeding to death. The following day a butcher from the same area was shot in the Oldpark Road area but escaped with his life.

Relations between the UDA and UVF in North Belfast have always been fraught. Since 1974, it’s estimated at least 30 men have been killed by the opposing brand of loyalism.

The RUC has appealed to the public for help in catching the killers. Some in loyalist circles believe the killing will only stop if senior RUC men decide to either arrest or "set up" a leading figure, or figures, involved in the feuding.

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