12 April 2006

UDA holds up Shoukri move

Daily Ireland

Inner Council delays expulsion for funeral of leader’s father

by Ciarán Barnes
12/04/2006

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usA move to oust Andre Shoukri as leader of the north Belfast Ulster Defence Association (UDA) has been put on hold until the funeral takes place of the father of the man he succeeded. (Click photo to view)
Shoukri and his supporters were said to be set for expulsion from the UDA earlier in the week for allegedly stealing almost £1 million (€1.27 million) of funds from the organisation.
The UDA’s ruling inner council was forced to cancel two planned expulsion meetings following the weekend death of William ‘Winkles’ Simpson – the father of former north Belfast UDA leader James ‘Jimbo’ Simpson.
The UDA is said to want to replace Shoukri with Jimbo Simpson, who has been living in exile in England since being chased out of the North three years ago. Mr Simpson was forced into hiding after a failed attempt to regain control of the north Belfast UDA in November 2003.
He was allowed to return to Belfast a number of weeks ago to be with his dying father. Disgruntled members of the north Belfast UDA urged him to take over from Shoukri soon after his return.
At a UDA meeting in Co Antrim last Friday, Shoukri, his brother Ihab and close friend Alan McClean, were supposed to have been expelled from the organisation. Simpson was due to be installed as new north Belfast boss, but in an extraordinary turn of events his main supporters, John Bunting and Sammy Duddy, were thrown out of the UDA.
A number of senior UDA men from west Belfast, opposed to the Shoukri faction, failed to turn up at the meeting. They had instead gone to Liverpool to watch the Grand National. South Belfast UDA boss Jackie McDonald, another Shoukri opponent, also failed to show. Mr McDonald was at home recovering from a minor operation. Because of their no show the Shoukri faction was able to retain control.
Despite this, a senior loyalist source told Daily Ireland the UDA still plans to “stand down” Shoukri and his supporters.
“Things aren’t likely to happen until Winkles (William Simpson) is buried on Friday,” he said.
“People have asked Jimbo to come back, but he’s in bits at the minute with his da’s funeral coming up. No one wants to do anything until then. Jimbo’s mind just wouldn’t be on it.”
North Belfast UDA boss Andre Shoukri and a number of close associates are currently in jail on extortion charges.

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