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
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