UVF threaten more murders in loyalist feud

 

Loyalist paramilitaries who assassinated a delivery driver outside a south Belfast shop have pledged to intensify their onslaught against rival terrorists, according to an informed source.

Michael Green (42) was ambushed today as he arrived to open up the furniture store where he worked. The father-of-three was shot at least five times by two Ulster Volunteer Force gunmen.

He was the fourth man to be murdered since the organisation's long-running feud with the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) re-erupted earlier this year after period of relative calm.

But sources close to the UVF, which has carried out all four killings, warned there will be no let- up until its enemies are wiped out.

"They have to disappear, they have abused this society for too long," one said. "It's an onslaught against these people. People have had enough."

Mr Green, a father of three from the Ballysillan area in north Belfast, was gunned down outside Gilpins Furniture Store on Sandy Row. He had just opened a side gate and got back on his motorcycle when the killers opened fire.

A colleague witnessed the attack but was too shocked to talk about what he had seen, one staff member said.

Northern Ireland Office Minister Lord Rooker described it as a callous and cold-blooded murder. "This horrific murder bringing nothing but pain and grief to yet another family. There's no place for gangsterism in the loyalist community or anywhere else, and only the rule of law can bring stability to communities that have already suffered so much."

Police say £30,000 a day is being spent on trying to keep a lid on the dispute which is over drugs and racketeering.

As well as the murders, hundreds of UVF men also laid siege to a housing estate in the east of the city in a bid to drive out families associated with the LVF. Police and soldiers stood by during the occupation.

Michael McGimpsey, a senior Ulster Unionist representative, claimed previous Chief Constables would not have allowed such a situation to develop.

He said: "We have seen over the summer the police apparently being unwilling or unable to intervene in this feud and we have seen matters basically spiralling out of control. The way they backed off at Garnerville [housing estate] was shocking.

"They seemed to be saying to the paramilitaries 'sort this out yourselves'."

But Detective Superintendent George Hamilton, the officer in charge of police attempts to halt the feud, insisted the force was doing all it could.

"The Police Service of Northern Ireland is the only organisation that's taking proactive measures to bring this to an end," he said.

Over the last six weeks, 20 people have been arrested, ten of them charged, by officers who have carried out 90 searches related to the feud.

"Our approach has been robust but within the law. I'm quite satisfied that the actions taken by police have resulted in a number of lives being saved."

PA