Third victim of loyalist feud had survived murder bid six years ago

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The Independent Online

Stephen Paul, in his late twenties, was shot several times on Saturday night as he sat in a van outside his father's home in north Belfast. Another man was injured in the attack.

The security forces fear more violence will follow in the dispute, in which the Ulster Volunteer Force is apparently intent on wiping out the smaller Loyalist Volunteer Force.

The feud is tying up large amounts of security force resources just as, ironically, the IRA has promised to disarm and go out of violent business.

There is no sign that any of the three biggest loyalist paramilitary outfits is considering following the republican lead. Instead, extreme Protestant violence has recently escalated in several areas of Belfast.

The latest victim, Mr Paul, was regarded as a member of the LVF who was deeply involved in the drugs trade and had served prison sentences for both paramilitary and petty criminal offences, as well as wife-beating. He had fallen foul of other loyalists on numerous occasions andhe survived an attack in which he was hit by five bullets six years ago. His uncle, William "Wassy" Paul, was shot dead in an earlier feud. Stephen Paul had a tattoo on his arm declaring: "In loving memory of Uncle Wassy, murdered by cowardly bastards."

The Ulster Unionist Party leader Sir Reg Empey said attempts at mediation had been rejected by the UVF. He added: "It has appeared for some time the UVF will not be budged. Their view is, let's get them out of the way."

Last week several families associated with the LVF fled from Garnerville, an east Belfast housing estate, after several hundred UVF supporters appeared on its streets. Police were criticised for not dispersing the crowds.

A 38-year-old man was recovering yesterday after a loyalist punishment shooting in north Belfast linked to the loyalist Ulster Defence Association. Police do not believe it was connected to the feud between the UVF and the LVF.