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2 November 2000 Edition

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Three dead as loyalist feud escalates

Rivalry between different loyalist groupings in North Belfast has spilled over into further bloody feuding. Three men have been killed in four days, bringing the number of loyalists killed in feuding to six, while over 200 families have been forced to flee from their homes.

Tommy English, a prominent member of UDP, the political party closely associated with the UDA, was shot dead just hours after the shooting of PUP worker Herbert Rice.

It is believed that Rice was targeted in retailation for an earlier killing, that of 21-year-old David Greer a UDA member shot dead in North Belfast last Saturday night. The UVF were blamed for his death.

Early media reports on the Greer killing suggested that the death was not linked to the ongoing feud, which has largely been played out on the Shankill, but subsequent events, most significantly the two fatal shootings in North Belfast, belied initial assessments.

Tommy English was shot three times in the chest as he lay on the sofa in the living room of his Ballyfore Gardens home at around 6.30 pm on Halloween night. His wife, who attempted to shield her husband, was also attacked by the masked gang. English died shortly after arriving at hospital.

A few hours earlier, 63-year-old Herbert Rice, who works at PUP Assembly member Billy Hutchinson's Shore Road office, was beaten with baseball bats before being shot dead at his Canning Place home. He died shortly after recieving emergency surgery at the Royal Victoria Hospital.

Four days earlier, the body of David Greer had been discovered in Mountcollyer Street with gunshot wounds to the chest after reports of a disturbance among UDA members in nearby Mileriver Street.

Describing Tommy English as a party officer in the UDP and part of the UDP's team at the multi party talks, UDP spokesperson Gary McMichael accused the UVF of reigniting the loyalist feud and being ``hell bent on keeping it going''.

``This self-styled people's army is nothing less than a fascist movement intent on enforcing its will within the loyalist community regardless of the consequencies,'' said McMichael.

Speaking of the revenge attack on Herbert Rice, the PUP's Billy Hutchinson said that the UVF was being drawn into further conflict. ``It only means the situation will get worse,'' said the Assembly member. Describing Herbert Rice as a `soft target', Hutchenson said ``The UFF have put it up to the UVF in North Belfast and that is a serious mistake."
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