Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 21 August 2014

A violent, drug-addled ex-terrorist who had made many enemies

Flowers at the scene of Bobby Moffett's murder on the Shankill Road
Bobby Moffett (44) was murdered on the Shankill Road in an area crowded with shoppers
The scene where a man was shot on the Shankill Road

The victim of yesterday's Shankill shooting was once a player in the paramilitary underworld.

At one time he was a member of the Red Hand Commando (RHC), an organisation closely associated with the UVF.

But according to a senior loyalist who spoke to this newspaper, the former prisoner was expelled “long before down-sizing”.

Down-sizing is how loyalists describe the standing down of chunks of the UVF and Red Hand organisations before their endgame statement in May 2007.

After the shooting, there were allegations that Bobby Moffet was a “heavy user” of drugs and that he had violently beaten “a large number” of women.

The suggestion is he was a man with many enemies.

A little over three years ago the UDA wanted the RHC to shoot him.

In broad daylight, Moffet had attacked a one-time UDA ‘brigadier’ on the Shankill. It was a very public humiliation for the ‘brigadier’, a big UDA figure once linked with Johnny Adair.

And, in the way that paramilitary loyalism works, one organisation demanded that the other punish its own man.

The RHC refused to shoot Moffet, but later expelled him after an “internal investigation”.

“He was expelled for heavy indulgence in narcotics — namely a drug known as speed,” a loyalist said.

“He wouldn't be a drug dealer, but a heavy drug user. His behaviour had become very erratic.”

Now, the big question is, who shot him? There is denial from the main loyalist groups — the UDA, UVF and RHC — of this shooting.

According to the senior loyalist who spoke to this paper, the killing is likely to have been the work of “an individual or individuals” who “took it upon themselves”.

“I don't think any organisation was behind it,” the paramilitary leader said.

But that statement will not be taken at face value — not yet — and the shooting will once again raise the question of loyalist guns and decommissioning.

A few days ago the Independent Monitoring Commission produced its latest assessment of paramilitary organisations — part of which addressed the issue of loyalist weapons.

Of the UVF, the commissioners said: “We could not rule out that some arms had been retained in some parts of the organisation.”

And of the UDA, the commission stated: “We believe that the achievement of decommissioning was hard won, that some areas took a lot of convincing, and that the delivery (of weapons for decommissioning) may have been uneven.”

There is no such thing as complete decommissioning. Every group will have kept guns — loyalist and republican.

Bobby Moffet was once part of one of those loyalist groups. He lived and died in that paramilitary underworld.

The questions are, who killed him and why?

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