UDA blamed for Belfast shooting


The UDA is being blamed for the murder of a man found shot dead in north Belfast with bundles of cash stuffed into his pockets. Mr James William Rockett (29) had been shot in the back of the head.

A local resident found his body on waste ground at Tynedale Gardens in the Ballysillan area at 9.30 a.m. yesterday. It was covered in frost and police suspect it had been there all night.

The RUC has begun a murder inquiry. Loyalist sources said Mr Rockett had connections with the UDA. They believe he was killed by the paramilitary group in an internal feud.

It is understood the killing is in no way linked to the UDAUVF feud which formally ended last week.

Mr Rockett's body was heavily tattooed with loyalist paramilitary insignia on his neck. It is understood he had £2,000 in his pockets. Local residents said they did not hear or see anything suspicious. RUC Chief Insp Stephen Crockard appealed for anyone with information to contact police.

Mr John White, chairman of the Ulster Democratic Party, the UDA's political wing, said he was mystified by the killing. "It is very worrying that this has happened, particularly following the good news with the ceasefire," he added.

Mr David Ervine of the Progressive Unionist Party, the UVF's political wing, said: "I have no idea what lies behind this."

DUP Assembly member Mr Nigel Dodds said it showed the "reckless disregard for security" on the part of those calling for the disbandment of the RUC.

North Belfast United Unionist Assembly member Mr Fraser Agnew said it showed that Protestants were living under a reign of terror. "What I find disturbing as a unionist, as a Protestant, loyalist and all the rest of it is these people here are saying we have more fears from people within their own communities than they have from Provisional IRA republicans," he said.

Alliance leader Mr Sean Neeson, said: "There are people within loyalism who seem hell-bent on sowing the seeds of doubt, mistrust and fear, even within their own community."

Meanwhile, the home of a former leading UDP member, Mr Joe English, was raked with bullets on Sunday night. Mr English was not at his home on the Doagh Road in Newtownabbey, Co Antrim when the attack took place. No one was injured but his wife was badly shocked. Mr English resigned from the UDP three years ago. He refused to speculate as to who was responsible. However, loyalist sources have blamed the UDA.

A man charged in connection with the loyalist feud in Belfast was freed on bail yesterday but was warned that if it broke out again he would be brought back to prison.

Thomas Potts (31), from Greeland Street, Belfast, is facing trial for attempted murder and possessing guns.