John Boreland: Loyalist in-fighting blamed for north Belfast murder of senior UDA man
Detective Galloway: We are clearly looking at tensions within loyalism at this time
John Boreland, the senior paramilitary murdered with a shotgun outside his Belfast home, was the victim of loyalist in-fighting, detectives believe.
The officer leading the investigation into the murder of the prominent Ulster Defence Association (UDA) member said main lines of inquiry focused on "tensions within loyalist groupings".
Police are stepping up patrols in the north Belfast area where Sunday's shooting happened amid fears of retaliation attacks.
Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) Detective Chief Inspector Justyn Galloway said the 46-year-old father-of-three, who survived a murder bid in 2014, had been made aware of a fresh threat to his life in recent months.
The known criminal was shot a number of times as he got out of his car outside his flat in Sunningdale Gardens in the unionist Ballysillan area at around 9.50pm on Sunday.
"It is my early assessment that he was shot with a shotgun," said Mr Galloway.
"John was known to police. He had been the victim of a previous shooting in 2014 and he was aware that he was under threat at the time of his murder."
Mr Boreland, who was engaged to be married, had taken steps to "counter" the threat, Mr Galloway said.
The detective said the shooting involved an element of planning, but he would not be drawn on whether he believed the killing was carried out by fellow UDA members or other loyalist paramilitary groups.
He did rule out a sectarian motive.
"Our main lines of inquiry are centred around loyalists and tensions within loyalist groups and the loyalist community, that is as far as I am prepared to say at this stage."
Mr Galloway said Mr Boreland's family had been left "devastated".
Superintendent Paula Hilman said police would be stepping up patrols. She appealed for calm and warned against anyone taking the law into their own hands.
"We are aware of tensions within the loyalist community in north Belfast and we already have a significant police operation across north Belfast and that will continue over the coming days," she said.
Police have appealed for anyone who was in the Sunningdale Gardens area at the time of the shooting to come forward. They are also keen to speak to anyone who spent time with Mr Boreland on Sunday and also his wider circle of friends and associates.
Detectives have made a direct appeal for help tracing the drivers of three vehicles seen leaving in the area - a motorbike, a silver Renault Megane and a black Peugeot 307.
In August 2014, Mr Boreland, who was heavily linked with local criminality, was shot in the thigh by rival loyalists.
There have been mounting tensions between loyalist groupings in north Belfast in recent weeks.
Loyalist gunmen have been responsible for dozens of murders since the organisations supposedly went on ceasefire in the 1990s. Many killings have been linked to feuds and turf wars among loyalist rivals.
The latest shooting has prompted further questions about the authenticity of the ceasefires.
Last year, the main loyalist paramilitary groups restated their commitment to non-violence as they came together to launch a new initiative - the Loyalist Communities Council.
Mr Boreland was a close associate of well-known north Belfast loyalist Andre Shoukri.
Ten years ago the UDA expelled Mr Shoukri and his late brother Ihab from the organisation after a bitter fallout between their gang and the mainstream leadership.
First Minister Arlene Foster, Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness and Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire are among many politicians to condemn the killing of Mr Boreland.
There has been widespread condemnation of the killing.
Stormont First Minister Arlene Foster tweeted her shocked and disgust.
A man has been shot dead in north Belfast. Shooting occurred in the Sunningdale Gardens area, off the Ballysillan Road, at around 9.50pm.— PSNI (@PoliceServiceNI) 7 August 2016
Shocked and disgusted to hear of a murder in nth Belfast tonight. I urge everyone to work with the police as they investigate.— Arlene Foster (@DUPleader) 7 August 2016
There can be no justification for the murder of a well known Loyalist in N.Belfast tonight.This was shameful & I unreservedly condemn it.— Martin McGuinness (@M_McGuinness_SF) 7 August 2016
North Belfast. The Ballysiilan Road has now fully re-opened.— Trafficwatch NI (@TrafficwatchNI) August 8, 2016
"I urge everyone to work with the police as they investigate," she said.
Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness branded the shooting "shameless".
"There can be no justification for the murder of a well known Loyalist in N.Belfast tonight," he tweeted.
"This was shameful & I unreservedly condemn it."
Belfast Lord Mayor Brian Kingston described it as "terrible news".
"It is appalling to hear that a man has been shot dead," he said. "I would appeal to anyone who can, to help the police."
North Belfast UUP councillor David Browne said: "I would plead to those people who have done this to stop, and if there is any thought of retaliation, not to get into this spiral."
SDLP MLA for north Belfast Nichola Mallon said there was "never any justification" for violence.
She said: "It is shocking to hear that another life has been taken in North Belfast. There are real concerns in the community that this could lead to further acts of violence. I am calling for calm to allow the police to carry out a full investigation, and bring those responsible to justice.
"The people of North Belfast wake up to news of this kind far too often. There was never any justification for this violence and there never will be.
"I urge anyone who saw anything or believes they may have any information about this murder to contact the PSNI."
Belfast Progressive Unionist Party councillor Julie-Anne Corr said on Facebook: "Heavy hearted learning of the fatal shooting in Sunningdale Gardens".
Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire said on Twitter: "Concerned to hear of fatal shooting in N Belfast. No place for violence in communities. Urge anyone with info to contact PSNI."
Ulster Unionist member of the Northern Ireland Policing Board, Ross Hussey, added: "I am very saddened to hear of a fatal shooting in north Belfast.
"Murder is murder and cannot be justified. It must be condemned.
"I would urge anyone with information to contact the police so that those responsible can be brought to justice."
The Ballysillan Road was closed to allow for investigations. It has since reopened to traffic.
Police appeal for information and calm
Police have appealed for information following the murder of prominent loyalist John Boreland in north Belfast.
They have also called for calm in the local community and said there will be an increased police presence in the area over the coming days.
Detective Chief Inspector Justyn Galloway, from Serious Crime Branch, is leading the investigation. He said: “At just before 9:50 last night John Boreland was returning home to his flat at Sunningdale Gardens in north Belfast. He had just got out of his car when he was shot at close range a number of times. His injuries were such that he died at the scene.
“Police believe that a shotgun was used in the attack. Mr Boreland was 46; he had lived in north Belfast for some time and leaves two sons and a daughter, a fiancee, a sister and his mother and father. I have visited the family today and I am sure you will understand that they are completely devastated.
“John Boreland was known to police. He had survived a previous attempt on his life in 2014 and had been warned by police about his safety within the past few months.
“Police are following a number of lines of enquiry in relation to this murder. Tensions within loyalist paramilitarism and criminality are among those lines of enquiry but they are not the only ones. Our early assessment is that this was not a sectarian attack.
“It is important that people with information about what happened last night or who have information about Mr Boreland come forward and give that information to police.
"I have a number of specific appeals:
- I want to hear from anyone who was in the Sunningdale Gardens area around 9.50pm last night who saw or heard the shooting or anything suspicious.
- I also want to hear from anyone who saw a number of vehicles leaving the scene last night. These include a motorbike, a silver Renault Megan car and a black Peugeot 307 car.
- I also want to talk to anyone who can assist with completing a picture of Mr Boreland’s movements in the 24 hours leading up to his death. We know he was in a bar on the Oldpark Road until shortly before he was shot. I want to talk to anyone who was in his company there or saw or spoke to him after he left.
“This was a brutal and senseless killing. There can be no justification for it. Police are committed to bringing those responsible before the courts. We are also committed to taking the weapon used to kill Mr Boreland off the streets. To achieve this, we need assistance from the community.
“We have a special incident room set up at Musgrave police station and I would ask anyone with any information to contact detectives on the non-emergency number 101 or use the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 if they want to provide information anonymously.
Local police Superintendent Paula Hilman condemned the murder. She said: “Police are aware of tensions within loyalist paramilitary groupings in north Belfast and surrounding areas.
“We already have a significant policing operation in place across north Belfast, so I am appealing for people to be calm and not take the law into their own hands.
“I am also appealing to local people to work with us and provide information about this murder or any criminal activity.
“Detectives can be contacted on the non-emergency number 101 or people can use the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 without giving their details.
“It is only by working together that we can ensure that any criminal activity is appropriately addressed and that residents are able to go about their lives in safety.”