Belfast Telegraph

UK Website Of The Year

Treachery is ingrained in loyalism, so did 'Bonzer' pay price for betraying drugs gang in Republic?

By Jim McDowell

Published 09/08/2016

John Boreland and Andre Shoukri
John Boreland and Andre Shoukri

He was known as John 'Bonzer' Boreland. The two 'Bs' are paramount - because John Boreland, a one-time 'brigadier' in the UDA, was murdered in another act of 'betrayal'.

Indeed, the terror gang should be renamed - from the UDA to the UBA, the Ulster Betrayal Association.

Just take a quick glimpse at its past, and how many of its own it has murdered.

From Tommy Herron right back at the start through to Jimmy Craig setting up John McMichael.

Craig was then set up in turn, paying for his treachery by being shot dead in the Bunch of Grapes bar in east Belfast.

And it continued through to Jim 'Doris Day' Gray, first of the so-called 'Brigadiers of Bling', being gunned down by his own.

And the biggest one of all: John 'Grug' Gregg, the then 'brigadier' of the South East Antrim Brigade of the UDA/UFF, who had tried to shoot Gerry Adams, being set up for assassination by Johnny 'Mad Dog' Adair from the Shankill during another vicious loyalist paramilitary internecine feud. And then Adair and his mob being forced out of their lower Shankill lair by - who else - the UDA.

The UDA legacy of vendettas is transparently lethal. So is it the same with 'Bonzer' Boreland?

He used to rule the roost with co-criminal Andre Shoukri in their blighted north Belfast/Tigers Bay turf.

Both Shoukri and 'Bonzer' went behind bars together, jailed for running an armed extortion racket.

Late on Sunday night Boreland died at the point of a gun. There are still no official forensic reports of what weapon was used.

Some sources say he was met on his way home to his flat by a hitman with a sawn-off shotgun who fired it at point-blank range into his face.

It's already on record that this is the type of weapon favoured by the UVF for non-attributable murders: think Bobby Moffett on the Shankill.

There are still no forensics, no traceable murder weapon, and no charges or convictions in relation to that crime.

It's also on record that over the past week the UVF in Mount Vernon in north Belfast were at loggerheads with their UDA counterparts, fuelling another feud and forcing the serving UDA 'brigadier' and his cohorts to flee their homes.

There is speculation that Boreland, with his UDA history tied so tightly into the Tigers Bay mob, may have been targeted for backing his former UDA foot soldiers.

That could have put him in the line of fire of a UVF assassin using an untraceable sawn-off shotgun cartridge - again.

But Boreland had a battalion of enemies built up over the years.

Two years ago he and one-time 'Bookie's Brigadier' Shoukri escaped another alleged murder bid.

However, the case against those allegedly involved in the incident was dropped by prosecutors.

But Boreland and the Paramafia circles he moved in were no strangers to the lucrative drugs trade - just like 'Mad Dog' and 'Doris Day' and other top UDA godfathers before and since.

Intriguingly, late on Sunday night, just after Boreland was shot dead, I got a phone call from a source.

That source claimed that Boreland was murdered because he had been involved in a £200,000 drugs scam.

The caller said that a hit team from Limerick had come up to Belfast to take their revenge.

The notion that so-called loyalist paramilitaries would do business - drugs business - with the killer gangs of the Republic is not new.

They've done it before.

Now, that begs the question - was John 'Bonzer' Boreland the victim of his own, ultimate 'betrayal'?

Or did he betray a deadly drugs gang in the South - and did they, or someone else in the UDA in Belfast, betray him and make him pay with his life at the hands of a hit team from Limerick?

Belfast Telegraph

Read More

From Belfast Telegraph