UPDATE: Prominent loyalist John 'Bonzer' Boreland shot dead

NewsBy Jamie McDowell
John Bonzer Boreland
John Bonzer Boreland
Police attending the scene
Police attending the scene

One-time major UDA figure, John 'Bonzer' Boreland, has been shot dead in Belfast.

The shooting happened at around 9.50pm on Sunday in Sunningdale Gardens in the unionist Ballysillan area, police said.

The victim was named locally as John Boreland - a well-known member or the UDA.

Stormont First Minister Arlene Foster condemned the killing.

"Shocked and disgusted to hear of a murder in nth Belfast tonight," she tweeted.

"I urge everyone to work with the police as they investigate."

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness branded the shooting "shameless".

"There can be no justification for the murder of a well known Loyalist in N.Belfast tonight," he tweeted.

"This was shameful & I unreservedly condemn it."

Police have appealed for witnesses to come forward.

Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire said on Twitter: "Concerned to hear of fatal shooting in N Belfast. No place for violence in communities. Urge anyone with info to contact PSNI."

Ulster Unionist member of the Northern Ireland Policing Board, Ross Hussey, said: "I am very saddened to hear of a fatal shooting in north Belfast.

"Murder is murder and cannot be justified. It must be condemned.

"I would urge anyone with information to contact the police so that those responsible can be brought to justice."

UDA leader John 'Bonzer' Boreland was targeted two years ago, in August 2014.

A long-standing UDA heavy, and sidekick of another prominent loyalist, Andre Shoukri, 'Bonzer' was shot in the leg as he drove through the Carr's Glen area with a passenger.

A breeze block was thrown at the car shortly after 10.10pm.

When the two men got out of the car to investigate, Boreland was shot once in the leg.

At the time, Boreland was involved in a bitter takeover attempt to oust UDA rival John Bunting as the UDA's number one in North Belfast.

He was one of the leaders of a large and growing dissident loyalist movement.

Before the shooting, in May of 2014, Tiger's Bay leader John Bunting was beaten in the streets on his home turf.

       John Bunting wipes blood away with his shirt seconds after being attacked

His assailants took pictures of a bloodied Bunting, posting them on social media to mock his 'authority'.

In the attacks on both Boreland and Bunting very similar tactics were used.

Both men were travelling in cars which were forced to stop in the middle of the road before their attackers engaged.

Since then, John Bunting has left Tiger's Bay, and 'Big' Bill Hill took over, almost by proxy.

Bill Hill (Pic: Pacemaker)

The hit on Boreland has come just days after a series of violent clashes between Mount Vernon UVF and the fractious North Belfast UDA.

The UDA as a whole is currently in a state of chaos with rival factions each vying to take over control of the organisation's lucrative drugs and extortion trade.

The situation was highlighted in the run-up to the Twelfth, with the UDA in Carrickfergus engaging in running street battles.

In the feudal scenes, men armed with cudgels and machetes ran at each other causing chaos in the town.  

More to follow