Loyalist boss John Boreland may have been shot by Limerick drugs gang seeking revenge
Speculation mounts UDA leader was shot by criminals from Republic after drugs deal scam as police follow theory killing was the result of a loyalist vendetta
Loyalist John 'Bonzer' Boreland may have been murdered by a drugs gang from Limerick, according to sources.
Last night, detectives investigating the murder arrested a 42-year-old man in north Belfast.
He was taken to Musgrave police station for questioning.
Speculation about the Sunday night shooting of the former north Belfast UDA leader has centred on a festering feud with the UVF, or divisions within the UDA itself.
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But there is also talk on the streets that Boreland was involved in a massive scam with a Limerick-based drug gang.
Sources told the Belfast Telegraph Boreland ripped off a cartel down there for more than £200,000 (€180,000), and that other UDA figures were involved in the deal. The sources claim that the Limerick gang wanted revenge, and that a UDA commander in west Belfast sanctioned the 'hit' on Boreland.
Boreland had also been threatened by members of the UDA just days before he was shot dead. The 47-year-old was approached two weeks ago by two men connected with the terror group in the south of the city and warned: "You don't know what's coming."
Concerns are mounting that his murder on Sunday night could mark the beginning of a bloody loyalist feud.
Loyalists close to Boreland last night accused members of the UDA in south Belfast of ordering his death as part of a turf war between factions.
He had just got out of his car outside his flat at Sunningdale Gardens, off the Ballysillan Road, when he was shot at close range a number of times.
He died at the scene.
Boreland's family said yesterday they were too upset to talk about his murder.
Solicitor John McBurney - a member of an independent panel tasked with assessing paramilitary groups - said it was a "dangerous time" and warned there could be "tit-for-tat" attacks.
"Belligerence and entrenchment could take groups into battle in a way that is completely counter-productive to any progress moving away from paramilitarism," said Mr McBurney.
"Now is the opportunity for the communities to be courageous and brave, to see this move forward with a criminal justice response rather than some street response."
Boreland, who served a prison sentence for extortion, escaped a UDA murder bid two years ago when he was shot in the thigh. He and his close UDA associate Andre Shoukri were shot at by a rival loyalist gang.
Police yesterday said they had warned the father-of-three in recent months that his life was under threat.
Detective Chief Inspector Justyn Galloway confirmed that the main line of enquiry was "tensions within loyalism".
Mr Galloway added: "He was known to police and had been the victim of a previous shooting in 2014 and was aware he was under threat at the time of his murder...we are clearly looking at tensions within loyalism at this time."
Although he knew he was under threat, Boreland did not change his routine, a source close to him said.
"A week or so ago he was threatened by those connected with the UDA in south Belfast," the source said.
"They told him: 'You don't know what's coming'. But he took it with a pinch of salt.
"He never changed his routine. He was shot five minutes after he left the pub on Sunday night.
"He was clearly being watched.
"They knew his movements."
He added: "Bonzer had been getting a hard time from Sandy Row UDA.
"Everyone is convinced that the gun was supplied by people from south Belfast.
"Bonzer's friends are convinced the order came from south Belfast UDA."
The Ulster Political Research Group in north Belfast - an advisory body linked to the UDA - posted on Facebook: "The cowardly act which resulted in John's death does not sit easy within our organisation.
"However, as emotions run high, we call for a period of calm and reflection."