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Friday, January 23, 1998 Published at 10:19 GMT


Ulster cycle of violence spiralling out of control
image: [ The scene of the shooting in Newtonabbey ]
The scene of the shooting in Newtonabbey

A bakery worker who was shot and seriously wounded on Thursday night was related by marriage to a senior Sinn Fein peace negotiator, it has been revealed.

The man, a father-of-two in his early 20s, was shot in north Belfast at around 6pm but it is not known if he was targeted deliberately or just hit at random.

He is married to a cousin of west Belfast councillor Alex Maskey, a member of his party's team at the Stormont peace talks.

The victim, who has not been formally named by police, was hit in the head and abdomen as he pulled down the shutters at the bakery where he works in Glengormley but was still conscious when paramedics reached him several minutes later.

As he lay injured in the road he cried out: "Why me? Why me?"

Witnesses said his brother tried to comfort him as he waited for an ambulance and replied: "It's nothing to do with you. It's because of this stupid country where we live."

He was taken to Whiteabbey Hospital for emergency treatment and was later described as "serious but stable."

The shooting, carried out by two gunmen believed to be loyalists, was the latest in a series of tit-for-tat incidents over the past few days.

Frank Hughes, whose brother Ben was killed on Wednesday, says what he feels about the gunmen (0' 32")
Ben Hughes, 55, a man with no known links to any paramilitary organisation, became the eighth victim of the latest violence when he was shot leaving work in Belfast on Wednesday evening.

PM urged to review loyalists' place in peace talks

William Thompson , Ulster Unionist Mp says 'you can't have talks where those participating support violence (3'08")
The attacks came hours after the Prime Minister was urged to review loyalist involvement at the Northern Ireland peace talks because of their politicians' links with the paramilitaries behind the murder of innocent Catholics.

"It is now up to the Government to take clear and decisive action to separate the political process from the men of violence," Alliance Party leader Lord Alderdice said before meeting Tony Blair at Downing Street.

He was referring to the Ulster Democratic Party, whose representatives are due in London on Monday for a new round of talks.

RUC Chief Constable Ronnie Flanagan said on Thursday the Ulster Freedom Fighters - who the UDP represents - were directly involved in three sectarian killings, raising serious questions about the future participation of the UDP's Gary McMichael and his negotiating team in the peace talks.

With senior politicians and churchmen on all sides pleading for an end to the bloodshed, London and Dublin as well as most of the parties in Belfast will be reluctant to make any move to have the UDP expelled at such a tense time.


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