There are fears other areas are being drawn into a unionist paramilitary feud between rival gangs of the UDA in County Antrim.

Shots were fired and a pipe-bomb attack carried out over the weekend in in-fighting between mainstream UDA and a faction based in south-east Antrim.

There have now been reports that convoys of men had come into neighbouring Larne and held “shows of strength” in two bars.

Two women and four young children escaped injury when shots were fired through the window of a house in Carrickfergus.

On Saturday evening a pipe-bomb device was thrown at the nearby home of a prominent member of the breakaway group.

George Robinson, who is vice-chair of the breakaway gang calling itself ‘Beyond Conflict’, said they were “trying to help the community” but were under attack by the mainstream UDA.

The DUP MP for the area, Sammy Wilson, said there was growing instability.

“People are still getting houses pipe-bombed, shots fired at their houses and confrontations in estates and confrontations with the police,” he said.

“They have got to ask themselves first off how much control do they have and secondly is their work being undermined by people within the same grouping.”

The North’s Social development minister Margaret Ritchie has told the mainstream UDA it needs to decommission its weapons if it is to receive millions of pounds in grant aid. A previous deadline set by Ms Ritchie seems set to pass without response.

She said she had “made it clear” that violence in Carrickfergus had breached the funding contract for the UDA’s “conflict transformation initiative”.

Her statement followed reports that the a significant statement might be delivered by the mainstream group in November, but short of decommissioning.

“The ball is in the UDA’s court,” she said.

“The people of Northern Ireland want to hear what the UDA is going to do. They are not interested in vague promises of what they might do or might have done.

“Action, not words is needed now.”

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