Leading members of the Ulster Defence Association turned out in force today for the funeral of loyalist feud victim Robert “Rab” Carson.
The 33-year-old father of two was gunned down alongside East Antrim UDA commander John “Grug” Gregg as they returned from a Glasgow Rangers football match at the weekend.
Mourners included the four remaining members of the UDA inner council, Jim Gray (East Belfast), Billy McFarlane (North Antrim and Derry), Jackie McDonald (South Belfast) and Andre Shoukri (North Belfast).
They were among thousands of loyalists who attended the funeral at Carson’s home in the Rathcoole estate on the outskirts of north Belfast.
Despite being a member of the UDA, his family had asked for no paramilitary trappings.
Among those following the coffin was “Mo” Courtney, former ally of Jonny Adair, whose “C” company has been blamed for carrying out Saturday night’s double murder in the Docks area of Belfast.
The UDA’s leadership has warned members of Adair’s Shankill Road grouping to leave his unit or face the consequences. There are fears that the feud, which has already claimed four lives, will escalate after tomorrow’s paramilitary style funeral of loyalist icon Gregg in Rathcoole.
Today’s funeral cortege was led by a lorry carrying floral tributes. Among them were wreathes from the UDA, the Loyalist Prisoners’ Association (LPA) and the Ulster Political Research Group (UPRG).
Behind the coffin walked Carson’s distraught wife Eileen and his six-year-old daughter Courtney, who carried a single flower.
Lining the route were marshals wearing black ties with the distinctive UDA crest and motto Quis Separabit (who will separate us).
The cortege slowly made its way in the brilliant sunshine past a large mural with two black hooded UDA men carrying guns.
One of the coffin-bearers was Sammy Duddy, a spokesman for the UPRG whose house has been attacked a number of times by followers of Adair.
The mourners followed the coffin for around a quarter of a mile before it was taken to nearby Carnmoney Cemetery for burial.