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Thursday, 6 February, 2003, 19:24 GMT
Funeral for loyalist leader
John Gregg's coffin was draped in a loyalist flag
Gregg's coffin was draped in a loyalist flag
Thousands of people have attended the funeral of murdered Ulster Defence Association commander John Gregg.

Three shots were heard as the cortege left Gregg's home in the Rathcoole estate on the outskirts of Belfast. It is thought the volley was fired over the coffin.

His coffin was draped in a loyalist paramilitary flag as mourners made their way to Carnmoney Cemetery.

The 45-year-old was killed in an ambush by rival loyalists in Belfast on Saturday night.

John Gregg: Prominent member of the Ulster Defence Association
John Gregg: Shot dead when his taxi was ambushed
The funeral took place against a background of further upheaval within the UDA after supporters of Shankill Road loyalist Johnny Adair fled the country.

Adair's so-called UDA C Company, based in the lower Shankill, has been blamed for the killing.

Robert Carson, a 33-year-old UDA member, was also killed when the taxi he and Gregg were travelling in came under a hail of bullets.

The driver of the taxi remains seriously ill in hospital.

Two other passengers, including Gregg's 18-year-old son Stewart, were in the car but escaped injury.

John Gregg, the UDA's leader in south east Antrim, was jailed in the 1980s for attempting to murder Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams in Belfast city centre.

Adair expelled

Four people have been killed in the loyalist feud within the past two months.

The dispute followed the UDA leadership's decision to expel Adair and his close associate John White in September.

On Wednesday night, the UDA claimed up to 100 members of C Company had defected to other parts of the organisation.

Adair's family and supporters left their homes under police escort after rivals came into the lower Shankill area and attacked houses.

Adair remains in prison after the Northern Ireland Secretary, Paul Murphy, revoked his early release licence for his involvement in "a litany of terrorist crimes".

The loyalist is challenging that decision in the High Court.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC NI's Tom Coulter reports from north Belfast:
"The UDA was determined this funeral would not only be a massive show of strength but also of unity"
See also:

06 Feb 03 | N Ireland
04 Feb 03 | N Ireland
04 Feb 03 | N Ireland
02 Feb 03 | N Ireland
08 Dec 02 | N Ireland
17 Jan 03 | N Ireland
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