Category: Archive

Hints of cease-fires from fringe groups

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Anne Cadwallader

BELFAST — There are signs that two paramilitary groups in Northern Ireland may end their violence after the LVF reiterated last week that its cease-fire is intact, while the INLA opened channels of communication with the British government.

The LVF has murdered at least 16 people, mostly Catholic civilians shot down at their work or at home, the most recent being a Portadown man, Adrian Lamph, in April.

The INLA’s last victim was Cyril Stewart, an off-duty RUC man, who was out shopping with his wife in County Armagh in March. The more recent car bombing of Newtownhamilton, in South Armagh, was also claimed by the INLA, which shot dead loyalist leader Billy “King Rat” Wright in the Maze Prison in December.

Neither group has yet been included on the list whose prisoners are eligible for the early release scheme set up by the peace agreement struck at Stormont on April 10.

The INLA has been involved in internal discussions on a possible cease-fire, although no announcement has been made and it’s understood the group is split over the possibility.

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PUP spokesman Billy Hutchinson said last week that a number of leading loyalists have been warned to take extra security precautions. He linked this to speculation about a possible INLA cease-fire.

Four leading loyalists were killed in the months leading up to the IRA’s August 1994 cease-fire, viewed at the time as the IRA damaging the UDA and UVF as much as it could before calling a halt to its campaign.

Hutchinson said the INLA would stop at nothing to kill a loyalist and the British government should tell the group to call a cease-fire immediately, without further loss of life.

The LVF statement said that irrespective of the IRA position, its campaign had been brought to an end and its cease-fire was absolute. It said this message had been sent to the Northern Ireland Office and British Northern Secretary Mo Mowlam.

There’s also speculation that the LVF may be about to make a gesture on decommissioning to further advance the case for its prisoners to be included in the early-release scheme, and to wrong-foot the IRA.

There is even the potential for some guns actually being handed over to the decommissioning body headed by the Canadian general John de Chastelain. It’s thought the LVF’s intentions might be to increase pressure on the IRA to make a similar gesture.

The LVF statement is in strong contrast to the repeated blood-curdling threats it was making a few months ago about “bombing Dublin” and murdering Irish civil servants working in the North.

Derry mostly quiet

Also last week, there were minor clashes in Derry during the annual Apprentice Boys’ parade. Agreement had been reached between the Boys and nationalist residents, with no organized protest against the march through the city.

Youths attacked the march, with Apprentice Boys shouting abuse at onlookers, while two shots were fired over the heads of the crowd after an RUC man became isolated from his colleagues and came under attack.

Compared to previous years, the trouble was minimal, although both sides said more would have to be done to prevent even small-scale stone and bottle-throwing in future years.

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