02 July 2005

Tensions are never far from the surface in militant loyalism

Belfast Telegraph

By Jonathan McCambridge, Crime Correspondent
02 July 2005

THE murder of Jameson Lockhart could spark the latest in a series of bloody loyalist feuds which have ignited tensions across Northern Ireland.

It is feared the east Belfast shooting could restart the bitter vendetta between the LVF and UVF that led to a spate of shootings and bombings in 2003.

Earlier this week, tensions within the UDA also resurfaced after a former associate of Johnny Adair was cleared of murder.

Wayne Stephen Dowie left Ulster within hours of being cleared of the murder of UDA feud victim Jonathan Stewart on Thursday.

He travelled alone, taking an afternoon flight to England following furious scenes in court.

Earlier this week the UDA moved to wash its hands of a loyalist fanatic, after he was convicted of trying to blow up one of Adair's aides.

Stanley Curry from Liverpool, although not a member of the UDA, had planted a bomb under the car of John 'Fat Jackie' Thompson. Thompson survived because the bomb failed to detonate properly.

Adair himself made a surprise visit to the Shankill earlier this year and has vowed to return again. It is thought in some circles that the Twelfth period would be an ideal time for another publicity stunt to infuriate his UDA enemies.

Yesterday's killing took place at the site of a pub owned by former UDA boss Jim Gray, but is believed to involve tensions between the UVF and LVF.

Loyalist sources indicated yesterday that Mr Lockhart had been a target of the UVF for some time. He had escaped one previous shooting attempt.

Tensions between the two groups erupted in 2003 following the UVF murder of LVF man Brian Stewart at Montgomery Road in east Belfast.

It led to a spate of revenge bomb attacks and shootings.

Earlier this year tensions boiled over again following a series of attacks on a taxi firm owned by former PUP man Jackie Mahood.

Mr Mahood, who was shot in the head by the UVF four years ago, accused the terror group of trying to put him out of business.

Only weeks ago there was mayhem in a Belfast court when rival loyalist gangs brawled minutes before a judgment was due to be delivered in the case of murdered Red Hand Commando drug dealing supremo, Jim Johnston.

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