03/08/2006

UDA feud could be resolved

The recent loyalist feud in north Belfast could be close to being resolved, after the news emerged that a leading member of a breakaway faction has left Northern Ireland.

It has been reported that Alan McClean, who took over the UDA leadership in the north Belfast area after the Shoukri brothers were expelled from the organisation last month, left the area at around 5am today.

Police escorted Mr McClean and his family, along with other supporters and a younger member of the Shoukri family out of the area, and it is understood that Mr McClean travelled to Dublin, where he subsequently caught a flight out of the country.

The move comes after a stand-off in the area last night, when around 300 people gathered in the Oldpark area of north Belfast.

Police arrived to the scene in riot gear and proceeded to block the road into the Westland estate, where they remained until this morning.

It is understood that people living in the area were unhappy with Alan McClean's takeover and took to the streets in a bid to get him out.

Tensions between UDA rival groups in the area have remained high, following a stand-off between rival factions at the weekend, when the UDA leadership held a public show of strength.

Meanwhile, it has been reported that a Sinn Fein spokeswoman has complained to the police ombudsman's office over how last night's demonstration was policed, stating that many people in the nationalist community felt intimidated and had to leave their homes in fear.

(EF)

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