Curry knew he was loyalist target

FRANKIE CURRY, murdered yesterday by fellow loyalists, had been a top member of the Red Hand Commando - the smallest of the three groups which called the loyalist ceasefire in 1994.

Curry, who served several terms in prison for terrorist crime, had fallen out of favour with mainstream loyalists - he was expelled from the Red Hand Commando for "treason" - but denied moving to a dissident groups.

He had only been released from jail on Monday after serving a short sentence for a motoring offence.

He knew he was at risk from loyalist gunmen. He had claimed in recent months that efforts were being made to link him to the Red Hand Defenders and their murder of an RUC man during a loyalist Orange Order Drumcree support rally in Portadown last August.

The Ulster Democratic Party spokesman, John White, who was one of the last people to see Curry alive, blamed dissidents for the killing. "I'm certain it wasn't the Ulster Defence Association or the Ulster Freedom Fighters... the circumstances suggest it was loyalists." He said it was not true that Curry was involved with a dissident group.

"He had just got out of prison and was looking forward to making a fresh start."