Loyalist shot in face over drugs, says PSNI


The shooting of a top loyalist paramilitary in Belfast is linked to a fall-out over drugs, police claimed today.

Mr Jim Gray, a senior member of the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), is recovering in hospital after being hit in the face.

Police said loyalists were embroiled in an internal war over their drugs and business interests.

Asst Chief Constable Mr Alan McQuillan claimed elements within the UDA were also continuing to stoke up sectarian tensions in north Belfast while at the same time infighting was taking place among criminal godfathers.

Mr Gray was ambushed late last night near the home of a loyalist drugs dealer Stephen Warnock (35) who was shot dead at the wheel of his BMW car in Newtownards, Co Down last Friday.

His funeral was taking place later today amid heightening fears that the shooting of Mr Gray could trigger a new outbreak of blood letting by rival Protestant paramilitaries.

There have been several shooting incidents involving leading loyalist figures over the past week.