Northern Ireland news

Allison Morris: Carrickfergus row escalates into all-out feud

Geordie Gilmore was shot in the neck in Carrickfergus. Picture by Hugh Russell

THE shooting of Geordie Gilmore in broad daylight on a busy residential street had a dreadful inevitability about it.

Tensions have been high in Carrickfergus since last summer, after what began as a row between a number of women quickly escalated into an all-out feud.

While Gilmore fell out of favour with the south-east Antrim UDA, he retained a small but loyal group of supporters, who refused to leave the town despite knowing they were under death threat.

In July last year over 100 men, some masked, marched on the leading loyalist's Carrickfergus home.

Despite this he decided to front it out and continue to defy the might of the south-east Antrim UDA, once the most active and deadly unit within the paramilitary organisation.

The fact that yesterday's shooting was carried out by an unmasked man, at around two o'clock in the afternoon with a potential abundance of eyewitnesses, paints a terrifying picture of the coastal town as lawless and out of control.

Police investigate the shooting of Geordie Gilmore senior

In December, Chief Constable George Hamilton said the cost of keeping the feuding factions apart had already topped £1.6 million.

That bill is likely to escalate dramatically as those loyal to Gilmore vow to take revenge on their rivals.

It will take strong political leadership and a heavy policing presence to keep a lid on the violence over the coming weeks, a terrifying time for residents who have found themselves living in a virtual war zone.

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