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Shooting target 'Scottish exile'

Published 13/08/2014




A MAN who fled intimidation in Scotland is believed to have been the target of a shotgun attack on a house in north Belfast.

A gun was fired at the front door of the home of Neil Find-lay (46) in the loyalist West-land estate shortly before midnight on Monday.

No-one was injured in the attack at Westland Way and police have said they are not treating it as sectarian.

Mr Findlay, originally from Irvine in Ayrshire, has been living in Northern Ireland for several years and was at home with his child at the time.

In 2004 he was part of a high-profile court case involving members of a Scottish flute band alleged to have links to the UDA who were arrested as part of an undercover operation by police in Ayr.

The prosecution alleged that the men were between them storing fireworks, incendiary devices and a shotgun and ammunition at addresses in Scotland.

When police raided the houses they also discovered a large quantity of UDA propaganda, suggesting there was an 'active unit' of the group in Ayrshire.

However, Mr Findlay was acquitted of having links to the UDA after claiming a balaclava was for a fancy dress party he was planning to attend dressed as Osama Bin Laden's fictional Scottish cousin 'Osama Billy Laden'.

He said the character's costume would consist of a long beard, a white sheet, sandals and would be topped off with a green balaclava.

Mr Findlay was later forced to flee Scotland following intimidation from former loyalist associates and set up home in the Westland estate where he befriended former UDA leader Andre Shoukri.

He declined to comment when The Irish News called to his house yesterday.

John Howcroft of the Ulster Political Research Group condemned the attack, saying it appeared to involve "anti- social elements".

Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly said it was a "cowardly attack".

"It would be a worrying development if, as many people fear, this gun attack was carried out as a result of tensions between loyalist factions.

"There can be no place in our society for armed gangs and this type of activity should be brought to a halt.

"I would appeal to political and community leaders in the loyalist community to work with police in a bid to ensure there are no more attacks like this".

DUP councillor Lydia Patterson said she was "appalled" at the attack.

"Whatever dispute lay behind this reckless attack this is entirely the wrong way to deal with such matters.

"Thankfully no-one was injured but it will have been deeply shocking not just for the man and child inside the house but also for their neighbours and the local community."

Leading loyalist John Bunting's car was pipe-bombed in north Belfast on Monday of last week.

The attack at Duncairn Gardens was blamed on a dissident faction of the UDA from the Tigers Bay area of north Belfast who are involved in a power struggle with mainstream loyalists. It sparked a major security alert.

* DAMAGED: The door of the targeted house in north Belfast

PICTURE: Mal McCann