Belfast Telegraph

Jim McDowell: Loyalist Gilmore shot in the neck for standing up to drug-dealing UDA thugs of Carrickfergus

By Jim McDowell

Former UDA 'commander' Geordie Gilmore faced down the UDA on Facebook late on Sunday. By Monday lunchtime, just a few hours later, he was face-to-face with the barrel of a gun, which spat a salvo of shots into his neck.

The point-blank shooting in broad daylight, almost on his own doorstep in Carrick, was the culmination of Gilmore's almost Houdini-like escape from a legacy of violent incidents and a litany of death threats.

They were all triggered by a marathon internecine UDA feud that has run for years in the south east Antrim area - a 'SEA' renegade UDA fiefdom stretching from the sprawling Rathcoole estate, through Carrickfergus and on to Larne.

The renegade tag dates back to when Andre Shoukri and his cronies were kicked out of the mainstream UDA and the SEA 'brigade', already squaring up for a showdown with the main inner council faction, 'adopted' Shoukri and his mob and took them under their wing.

The SEA faction, with its gangster leader (he can't be named for legal reasons) then, and still, based in Rathcoole, split from the mainstream UDA ahead of the posse before they, too, were expelled.

One of those to join Shoukri's flight to the SEA was John 'Bonzer' Boreland.

He was shot dead just six months ago, gunned down in the street at point-blank range, just like Gilmore.

But that was as part of another internal feud being waged in north Belfast over gangland turf and drugs, with elements of the mainstream UDA being suspected of involvement in the murder.

Shoukri was one of the main mourners at Boreland's funeral.

Sources last night indicated there was no link between the Boreland and Gilmore shootings.

They were putting it down to a single Facebook message posted on Sunday night.

For many months Gilmore and his fellow-travellers had fallen out with the SEA UDA leadership, and faced them down, with trouble often erupting into violence and rioting, shows-of-strength, and slagging off each other on social media.

Gilmore himself defied a string of threats before the stalking gunman caught up with him yesterday.

Vehemently opposed to the UDA's drugs rackets, he drew support from disaffected veterans disgusted at the organisation's involvement in the vile, but lucrative, illegal trade.

He dared to stand up to the leadership of the breakaway South East Antrim brigade.

At one stage shots were fired at Gilmore's home in the Castlemara estate, but he refused to be put out of Carrick, and more than stood his ground.

He refused to be intimidated. Last summer he even spearheaded a campaign to deface UDA murals and target SEA bonfire sites. Violence erupted. PSNI riot cops had to flood parts of Carrick.

And then came that single, stubborn Facebook post on Sunday night.

Perhaps reflecting his own refusal to be forced out, it simply read: "The day of the UDA putting people out of Carrick are over."

Last night the PSNI again put parts of the Co Antrim town in lockdown as it hunted the gunman who shot Geordie Gilmore, simultaneously issuing a public appeal for calm.

Said one loyalist veteran in Carrick: "Gilmore and those close to him were considered 'old school'. More and more UDA members in the SEA brigade ranks were becoming disillusioned and turning to him. The SEA issued a death threat. But such was the disenchantment in SEA ranks that no one was prepared to carry it out - until now."

Gilmore had goaded his adversaries by deliberately taunting, on Facebook, that their day was done. Just hours later he was face-to-face with a gun for facing down, once again, the South East Antrim UDA.

Belfast Telegraph

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