Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

'Bacardi Brigadier' on the run

Plea for calm after UDA coup bid fails

Jim 'Jimbo' Simpson is belived to have fled Northern Ireland

This is the former senior loyalist whose failed takeover of the UDA in north Belfast sparked fresh tensions within loyalism.

Jim 'Jimbo' Simpson - dubbed the 'Bacardi Brigadier' when he was the organisation's north Belfast leader - was believed to have fled Northern Ireland today with several supporters.

There were appeals for calm in north Belfast amid fears of further feuding.

However, mainstream UDA sources played down the extent of the trouble and likely repercussions.

Police said they were "investigating a number of incidents where several houses and a business were attacked in the Ballysillan and Glenbryn areas at around 11.30 yesterday morning."

It is understood a mob of up to 40 of Simpson's supporters attempted to oust the current leadership.

Sources claimed there had been a dispute over the proceeds of a recent robbery, believed to be an armed raid at the Northern Bank, Newtownabbey on October 4.

Shortly before the internal UDA feud erupted last year, Simpson was stood down as north Belfast 'brigadier' and was replaced by Johnny Adair's then ally Andre Shoukri.

With Shoukri and his brother Ihab - who briefly assumed Andre's role after he was sentenced to six years for possessing a pistol - now both in prison, Simpson attempted to regain his position.

"This was a failed coup," one UDA source said. "He thought he could muscle in now that the Shoukris are in jail but the UDA was having none of it. We were able to rally people together to put a stop to it before things got out of hand."

It is understood that Simpson fled to Scotland following the trouble. Up to a dozen families are believed to have left their homes in the area after they were visited by senior UDA figures yesterday evening.

"People don't have any time for this man," one source said. "The feeling towards him since he was stood down is one of disgust. There's no place for him here in Belfast - he's better off out of the country".

Sammy Duddy of the UDA-linked Ulster Political Research Group said the organisation was appealing for calm.

"The UDA's inner council met yesterday to discuss what happened and they have made it clear there is to be no further violence. It looks like there is little prospect of more trouble in the immediate future. This was a failed attempt with very little support," he said.

North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds cautioned against the possibility of another feud developing.

"We have now had two very violent and nasty loyalist feuds and the last thing we need is another one. The sad fact is that innocent people get caught up in this sort of thing and it has the potential to spiral.

"I would appeal to those involved to back off and calm down," Mr Dodds added.

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