Leading UDA man dies after suffering heart attack
One of loyalism's leading figures has died in hospital after suffering a massive heart attack.
Sammy Duddy had been a senior north Belfast member of the Ulster Political Research Group, which advised the UDA.
The 62-year-old, who died last night, had been in intensive care in the Royal Victoria Hospital since collapsing with a blood clot at his office on Monday.
Most recently, Duddy, who was forced to move house last summer after an attack linked to tensions between rival loyalist factions, had been working for the Conflict Transformation Initiative, which was set up to help his community move away from violence and criminality.
It retained close links with the UDA, and it was because of the organisation's refusal to hand over its weapons that proposed funding of £1.2m was blocked by the Social Development Minister Margaret Ritchie.
Throughout the 1970s, Duddy would have been a fixture at UDA headquarters on the Newtownards Road, working for years as the organisation's public relations officer. For a time he edited a UDA magazine and later had a book of poetry published.
Duddy retired from active loyalism in the 1990s, but returned to become a member of the UPRG after the UDA leadership split in a bloody feud which claimed several lives and which led to the ousting of one of its leaders, Johnny 'Mad Dog' Adair.
Security commentator Brian Rowan said his death will be seen as a loss by many involved in the political process. He was a significant figure in the move to remove the Shoukris from UDA leadership in north Belfast, he said.
"In that move within the UDA to remove the Shoukris from leadership, Duddy was one of those prepared to speak out against them, prepared to link them to criminality and put himself in considerable danger in that period," said Mr Rowan.
"He was always at that end of the organisation which was about community development and political advice.
"There is clearly a struggle within that organisation to determine the path it's going to take.
"Duddy would have been seen as one of those arguing for the organisation to be more involved in the peace process and move away from the past."
Close friend Frankie Gallagher, a UPRG spokesman, said: "He came out of retirement to pursue a peaceful path for his community and in pursuit of that he has given his life. It's a massive, massive loss for his community."