Issue 2 - 2024 200dpi

13 January 2000 Edition

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Killings mark escalation of loyalist feuding

Two killings in two weeks have brought to light the tensions that have been simmering over the last few years within loyalism since the mid-Ulster Brigade of the UVF, under the leadership of Billy Wright, split from the mainly Belfast-based UVF leadership and formed the LVF.

The latest killing, the shooting of 46-year-old Portadown UVF commander and former RUC man Richard Jameson on Monday 10 January, is believed to have been carried out by the LVF in retaliation for a UVF attack on several LVF prisoners.

The killing of PUP member Denver Smith in the Stiles estate, Antrim in the early hours of New Year's Day, is believed to have its roots in a series of local disputes between the Antrim UVF and drug dealers linked to so-called dissident loyalists.

Relations between loyalist ``dissidents'' and mainstream loyalists in Portadown have always been strained. In 1996, when Billy Wright was expelled from the UVF and went on later that same year to form the LVF, the stage was set. It was not long before the UVF passed a death sentence on Wright and accused him of being involvement in the drugs trade.

However, it was the killing of Catholic taxi driver Michael McGoldrick by Wright's UVF gang during that year's Drumcree standoff that forced the UVF leadership's hand.

The LVF under Wright went on to kill a number of Catholics in the area before Wright was jailed and subsequently killed by the INLA in H Block 6 in Long Kesh.

Since that period, there have been constant fights between the loyalist groupings. In recent months, however, the number of fights and, indeed, the brutality has increased. In March last year, loyalist dissident Frankie Curry was shot dead on the Shankill Road, a killing believed to have been carried out by the UVF.

Then, on 27 December 1999, it is alleged that Richard Jameson was drinking in Portadown Football Social Club (two of his brothers are directors of the football club) when he got into an argument with a number of LVF prisoners who were out on Christmas bail from Long Kesh. Jameson left but at around 5.30pm a number of men wielding baseball bats entered the premises and began attacking drinkers. Twelve people were injured during the clashes. Among those injured, it is believed, were a number of LVF prisoners.

Jameson was killed on Monday 10 January as he parked his jeep outside his home at the Derrylettiff Road, five miles outside Portadown. A gunman approached the vehicle from the passenger side and fired through the window, hitting the UVF commander in the head and chest before making his getaway in a nearby car.

In Antrim, the tensions between loyalists are thought to centre on attempts by the PUP/UVF to curb dissident loyalists involved in drugs and who have established themselves in Antrim's working class estates.

The New Year's Day killing of PUP man Denver Smith occured at 4.50am. Smith and a number of others were involved in a fight with, it is believed, a gang of drug pushers.

Smith was assaulted with some kind of weapon and died of his wounds in Antrim Area Hospital.

Sinn Féin's Martin Meehan has criticised the RUC, who said in the aftermath of the Smith killing that they did not rule out a sectarian motive. He was speaking to An Phoblacht hours after a pipe bomb attack on a home occupied by a Catholic family ``The RUC, by saying they have not ruled out a sectarian motive, have exposed Antrim's Catholics to possible loyalist retaliation,'' he said.

No one was injured in the attack as the device exploded in the back garden.


An Phoblacht
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Dublin 1