Northern Ireland news

Holy Cross dispute UDA leader Jim Simpson dies from cancer

Jim Simpson died last Thursday. Picture by Pacemaker
Paul Ainsworth

FORMER north Belfast UDA leader Jim Simpson, who was involved in the Holy Cross dispute in 2001, has died from lung cancer.

The ex-paramilitary leader, known as 'Jimbo' and the 'Bacardi Brigadier', died at his home on the Shankill in west Belfast on Thursday of last week.

Simpson (60), originally from the Tigers Bay area, joined the UDA in the 1970s and became involved in the high-profile Holy Cross dispute when loyalist residents of the Glenbryn estate protested against schoolgirls walking to Holy Cross Primary School.

The row saw schoolgirls verbally abused by loyalist protestors.

 Pupils at Holy Cross Girls' Primary School in north Belfast were subject to a loyalist protest in 2001

As the infamous sectarian protest made headlines around the world, Simpson - then north Belfast UDA boss - was involved in issuing threats against RUC officers who policed the dispute.

Simpson warned officers that their homes would be targeted but later insisted he was referring to planned protests rather than violence.

In 2002 Simpson was replaced as 'brigadier' by Andre Shoukri.

Following further conflict with his former paramilitary colleagues, Simpson fled to England.

He returned to Northern Ireland in 2014 after coming to an agreement with UDA bosses.

Simpson will be buried today at Carnmoney Cemetery in Co Antrim.

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