Media ordered away from scene at Rockett funeral

 

An estimated 1,000 mourners attended the funeral on the Shankill Road in Belfast of Mr Sam Rockett, who was killed by the UDA last week. He was the third person to die in the loyalist feud.

Heavily armed RUC officers stood along the funeral route in case of further attacks. Mr Rockett (22) was shot dead on Wednesday night as he sat in his girlfriend's home in Summer Street. His partner witnessed the shooting, and their one-year-old daughter was also in the house at the time.

Mr Rockett was targeted because of family links with the Progressive Unionist Party, the UVF's political wing. His brother, Arthur, was released for the funeral on compassionate bail after being charged earlier in the week with gun offences.

The killing was in revenge for the UVF double murder last Monday of Mr Sam Mahood and Mr Jackie Coulter. A private service was held at Mr Rockett's home in Vistula Street.

The cortege passed along the Shankill and was led by a piper. The coffin was flanked by men wearing white shirts and black ties, trousers and arm-bands. Crowds lined the streets and shops and businesses on the Shankill pulled down their shutters.

Marshals ordered the media away from the funeral "for their own safety". A flat-bed lorry carried wreaths, including one from the UVF 1st Battalion in Belfast. Before the funeral, leaflets were passed among mourners detailing recent UFF attacks on families and property.

The UFF is a cover-name for the UDA. One leaflet said: "Some of the most heinous crimes carried out against the Protestant people have been carried out by the so-called Ulster Freedom Fighters".

Another leaflet described UDA Shankill commander Johnny Adair as a "drug baron, racketeer and Nazi". It accused "Adolf Adair" of waging a campaign of destruction, intimidation, extortion and murder against the Shankill Road community.