21 July 2005

Murder attempt 'may have been part of loyalist feud'


21/07/2005 - 08:41:38

Police in Belfast were today investigating the possibility that an overnight murder attempt at a house in the city may have been part of a bitter loyalist paramilitary feud.

A number of shots were fired through a bathroom window at the rear of the house in Avonorr Drive in east Belfast shortly after midnight.

A man in his 30s was on his own in the house at the time of the attack.

A dark-coloured Rover car was found burnt out in nearby Bendigo Street one hour later.

Detectives were investigating a possible link between it and the shooting.

While police said they were keeping an open mind on the motive for the attack, they were looking at the possibility that the shooting was part of a feud between the Ulster Volunteer Force and the rival Loyalist Volunteer Force, which has already claimed two lives in the city.

Last week Craig McCausland, 20, was shot dead at the house he shared with his partner and two children in north Belfast.

His family has denied he had any link to the LVF or any other terror group.

It was the second tragedy to hit the family. Mr McCausland’s mother, Lorraine, was believed to have been beaten to death by members of the loyalist Ulster Defence Association in March 1987 near a drinking club.

Earlier this month 25-year-old Jameson Lockhart was gunned down as part of the feud as he worked on a building site in east Belfast.

The attack was also blamed on the UVF.

There have been a number of other incidents, including the shooting several times of a man walking two dogs on the Crumlin Road in north Belfast on the same night Mr McCausland was murdered.

The UVF was also blamed for a gun attack on a house in east Belfast on Monday.

The feud has once again put the links between the Progressive Unionist Party, which has one Assembly member, and the UVF and Red Hand Commando, under the spotlight.

Northern Secretary Peter Hain said yesterday he was considering withholding the party’s Assembly allowance for another year following a report in May which indicated the UVF and Red Hand Commando remain involved in organised crime, violent and active.

Mr Hain gave the PUP a week to make a case to him for the allowances to be given to them.

PUP leader David Ervine described the fine as unjust and challenged the British government to have him arrested if it believed his party had a say over what the UVF and Red Hand Commando did.

The East Belfast Assembly member said no member of the PUP’s leadership had ever been accused of being on the governing authority of the UVF or Red Hand Commando.

“That allegation has never been put in our direction,” he said. “So why should we punished?”

The PUP leader said he wanted to hear directly from Mr Hain why exactly the British government was thinking about taking further action against the party.

He was also dismissive of the four-member Independent Monitoring Commission which monitors paramilitary activity and which is made up of former Northern Ireland Assembly Speaker Lord Alderdice, retired Irish civil servant Joe Brosnan, ex-Metropolitan Police anti-terrorist squad chief John Grieve and ex-CIA deputy director Richard Kerr.

“I want to hear what are his (Peter Hain’s) intelligence services telling the IMC?

“The IMC is an annoyance, a trial by four horsemen riding Shetland ponies.”

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