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Bigwig bust-up UDA bosses Matt Kincaid and Jim Spence at odds over terror group's drugs purge, sources claim

Both men have become rich off the back of the drug trade

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Jim Spence

Jim Spence

Jim Spence

UDA heavyweights Matt Kincaid and Jim Spence had a bust-up over the terror group's drugs purge.

As previously reported by the Sunday World, Spence has stepped back from his role as Woodvale commander as part of an attempt to distance the group from organised crime.

Spence has long been the man pulling the strings when it comes to the UDA's drug rackets, overseeing operations in the west and north of the city while also pushing into north Down.

But a reorganisation of the terror group's organised crime set-up brought him into confrontation with his boss, West Belfast Brigadier Matt Kincaid.

Drug dealers have been told they can no longer rely on the protection of the UDA - they have also been told they can no longer consider themselves members of the organisation.

The move mirrors the actions of the UVF in recent months and is the result of pressure from the British government which has threatened to withhold millions of pounds in funding for community projects.

Loyalist paramilitary groups pledged to transition away from organised crime with the formation of the Loyalist Communities Council in 2015.

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Brigadier Matt Kincaid

Brigadier Matt Kincaid

Brigadier Matt Kincaid

In the six years since they have failed to deliver on their promises with both organisations up to their necks in organised crime and in particular the drugs trade.

But the plan has created tension at the top of the UDA in Belfast - it is understood Spence wanted concessions and dispensations for people close to him who are involved in the trade.

When Kincaid told him it was an "all or nothing" option, Spence is understood to have squared up to his boss.

The main bone of contention centres on an individual close to Spence who peddles drugs on the Shankill Road.

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Spence is believed to have urged Kincaid to turn a blind eye to his activities and allow him to continue his racket without consequence from the UDA.

Kincaid refused and warned Spence his associate would continue at his own risk and could not rely on him for protection.


Both men have become rich off the back of the drug trade. Kincaid facilitated drug dealers in UDA territory in return for a sizeable chunk of the profits.

Spence was his trusted lieutenant who orchestrated and controlled the rackets including that of UFF C Company chief Mo Courtney.

Courtney, a convicted killer, runs a lucrative drug operation in the Lower Shankill estate.

Kincaid resisted repeated calls from the community to take action against the drug dealers, instead Spence expanded operations beyond the west of the city.

He muscled in on north Belfast, taking advantage of a lack of leadership, he also pushed into north Down.

There is no suggestion Spence was forced to stand down, the decision was his own.

The UDA veteran decided it was time to get out of the firing line.

He is now in his 60s and has grown fat off his ill-gotten gains.

He has been replaced as commander by a two-man team but well-placed sources in the greater Shankill say that while he may have retreated into the shadows he remains an active member of the UDA.

A spokesman representing both Jim Spence and Matt Kincaid said: "Mr Spence and Mr Kincaid remain firm friends. Neither individual has any involvement in criminal activity of any kind, nor are they, or have they been, members of any proscribed organisation."

richard.sullivan@sundayworld.com

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