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MO ATTACKED; EXCLUSIVE New loyalist feud fears as UDA chief is beaten up in street.

Byline: By DONNA CARTON

A BLOODY loyalist feud has been re-ignited with a vicious attack on leading UDA man "Mo" Courtney.

Courtney was left seriously injured and bleeding profusely after a savage beating from a long-term UVF rival.

The 43-year-old was set upon as he walked along Belfast's Shankill Road on Friday just hours after hearing he will be retried for the murder of Johnny Adair's pal Alan McCullough.

A source said: "Mo took a real beating from this guy and was left fighting for breath and with blood pouring from his ears.

"Someone took him to hospital but he only stayed long enough to get patched up and then left. He didn't want to stay there. He wanted to find his attacker."

Courtney and a few friends drove around the Shankill area for hours searching for the UVF man but didn't find him.

The assault has heightened tensions in the loyalist west of the city and increased fears of a resumption of the full-scale murderous feud that gripped the area almost seven years ago.

The source added: "Mo's attacker has been biding his time since 2000 when UVF supporters were forced out of the Shankill by Adair's UDA mob.

"This guy's sister was one of those ordered to leave her home and he has never forgiven nor forgotten."

The UVF and the Adair-controlled UDA clashed in 2000 over control of the Shankill area. In just over a year there were 10 tit-for-tat murders.

A source said: "Mo's pals could easily try to exact some sort of revenge for Friday's attack. If they do, the Shankill will be a tinderbox again."

Courtney was dramatically acquitted in November of murdering Johnny Adair's former ally Alan "Bucky" McCullough.

At Belfast Crown Court Mr Justice McLaughlin also directed Courtney be found not guilty of being a member of either the outlawed UFF or the UDA.

He said the "inherent weakness" in the evidence given by the McCullough family and of witness A was such that "I could not properly convict the accused of the murder of Alan McCullough".

However, on Friday, in a historic judgment in the Court of Appeal, three judges ruled Courtney, who is out on bail, must stand trial again.

The murder, on May 28, 2003, was carried out in the aftermath of a loyalist feud when members of Adair's C company shot dead rival UDA leader John "Grug" Gregg when he left a ferry at Belfast docks.

McCullough, 21, and other members of C company were forced out of the Shankill area but he returned after he was given assurances he would not face retaliation.

His body was found in a shallow grave in Mallusk, Co Antrim.

CAPTION(S):

Shot.. Alan McCullough was killed after he returned' Historic.. Courtney will be retried for McCullough murder
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Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jan 28, 2007
Words:466
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