Another funeral, another promise of revenge

Jackie Coulter's funeral began with the playing of Celine Dion's "The Power of Love" and ended with threats of retribution among the crowd that had turned up in a menacing show of paramilitary strength.

Jackie Coulter's funeral began with the playing of Celine Dion's "The Power of Love" and ended with threats of retribution among the crowd that had turned up in a menacing show of paramilitary strength.

Some of the most notorious figures from Ulster's loyalist terror groups turned up to bury Mr Coulter, a friend of Johnny Adair. News that police found explosives, arms and ammunition in the loyalist Shankill area of Belfast added to the tension.

It is thought that the explosives were the property of the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF), to be used for making pipe bombs, security sources said. The guns were said to belong to the rival Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF). Police say both sides are rearming.

As they drifted away from the funeral, UFF members vowed vengeance for Jackie Coulter. One senior figure from the Lower Shankhill said: "The score is still 2-1 to the UVF. They started the killings and there are bound to be consequences."

Another said: "We are in a war and it can't stop now. Jackie was a good man and his killer should not and will not get away with it. Of course, Jackie's friends will hit back. I can assure you he will be avenged."

Mr Coulter was shot with a companion, Bobby Mahood, 48, in the Crumlin Road on Monday. The killings were blamed on the UVF. Mr Mahood's low- key funeral was on Thursday. There is a feeling Mr Mahood, not believed to be directly linked to violence and who had connections with the UVF, was killed by mistake and that the real target was Mr Coulter.

Mr Coulter's funeral was a full paramilitary affair, attended by 1,000 men from all six "brigades" of the UFF. There were wreaths from the organisation and its parent body, the Ulster Defence Association. Also displayed were tributes from the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF), a UVF breakaway group which had been forging an alliance with the UFF for what is seen as a showdown for supremacy in the world of loyalist terror.

The LVF wreath was brought by Gary Fulton, said to be leader in succession to the murdered Billy "King Rat" Wright. Also present at the service, held at the Coulter home in the Shankill area, was Winky Dodds, reputed to be running UFF operations since the rearrest of Adair.

Before the funeral, a loudspeaker in the garden of the house in St Mary's Court belted out sugary pop songs as tattooed men in uniform white shirts, black ties and sunglasses took up position outside the house.

"The Last Post" was played by a lone bugler as the coffin was carried out. Mr Coulter's widow, Agnes, his son and three daughters walked part of the way behind the coffin. Almost everyone else in the procession appeared to be UFF members.

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