Belfast Telegraph

Prominent loyalist shot dead as part of 'paramilitary feud'

A prominent loyalist has been shot dead as part of a suspected paramilitary feud in Northern Ireland.

George Gilmore, 44, was driving in his car when he was hit in the neck.

Another bullet was found lodged in an occupied house in a residential area of Carrickfergus north of Belfast, police said, and it was lucky bystanders were not hurt.

Detective Chief Superintendent Raymond Murray said: "This was a reckless attack which took place in broad daylight in a residential street populated with families, young children and older people."

He said a number of shots were fired in the residential area of Pinewood Avenue in the Co Antrim town on Monday afternoon and it was lucky they were not dealing with further casualties.

The gunman fled on foot.

Mr Gilmore was taken to hospital but died on Tuesday.

A dispute between loyalist factions in the town has been ongoing for months.

It is thought the fallout involves two parts of the Ulster Defence Association (UDA).

An assessment by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) and MI5 last year of paramilitary groups in Northern Ireland concluded that members of organisations like the UDA continue to engage in violent activity and that "violence and intimidation are used to exercise control at a community level" .

The shooting followed a serious assault on a doorman at a nearby bar in Carrickfergus on Sunday.

Local police, supported by members of the PSNI's Armed Response Units and colleagues from the Air Support Unit, carried out a number of searches across Carrickfergus and maintained a robust presence in the area throughout Monday night.

Det Chief Supt Murray appealed for the public to come forward with information, including sightings of Mr Gilmore's white Vauxhall Insignia car.

"Let me be clear, the gunmen did not care about the local community when they carried out this attack, which is evident as one of the bullets missed its intended victim and was found lodged in a house which was occupied at the time."

Sinn Fein leader at Stormont Michelle O'Neill said t here was no place for paramilitarism, criminality or guns on the streets.

"We all have a duty in public life to work towards ending criminality in our society. Sinn Fein are committed to that."

Democratic Unionist leader Arlene Foster said the shooting was disgraceful.

"There is no place for this type of activity in Northern Ireland or indeed anywhere."

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