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Wednesday, December 31, 1997 Published at 18:35 GMT

UK: Politics

Mowlam considers Maze murder inquiry
image: [ David Trimble described discussions at Stormont Castle as
David Trimble described discussions at Stormont Castle as "very disappointing"

Ulster Secretary Mo Mowlam is considering bowing to Ulster Unionist demands for a full public inquiry into both the killing of Loyalist Billy Wright in the Maze Prison and the escape weeks before of a leading IRA man.

Dr Mowlam had a long and acrimonious meeting at Stormont with an Ulster Unionist delegation led by David Trimble. He later described the talks as "very disappointing".

The UUP has been pressing for a full inquiry with a published report into the two events at the Belfast prison each side of Christmas.

Mr Trimble said the Secretary of State was reconsidering her decision to have the two events investigated by members of the English prison service.

[ image: David Trimble:
David Trimble: "We did not get any proper answers to the questions we raised"
He said he hoped she would reconsider "and that this was not just some flip phrase thrown off to satisfy the meeting and it would be followed up quickly so we have a proper independent inquiry with its report published".

Mr Trimble is keen to have a similar inquiry to that set up by former Home Secretary Michael Howard following the escape by five IRA men from Whitemoor Prison in Cambridgeshire.

The Unionists have been calling on Dr Mowlam to resign following the two breaches of security in the prison.

A 'dangerous situation'

Mr Trimble said of the meeting: "We did not get any proper answers to the questions we raised."

He added that he was "astonished" he did not get satisfactory answers from senior officials with Dr Mowlam, who either did not have, or would not give, information.

He told the Secretary of State she faced serious problems and warned of the dangers of an outbreak of violence.

"We are in a very delicate situation, and a very dangerous situation.

"She has not built confidence"

"I'm glad, of course, that last night went off peacefully, I don't have a similar confidence as regard the future."

He said the Secretary of State "has singularly failed to build confidence".

After the meeting Dr Mowlam and her officials were considering Mr Trimble's comments. "He made a number of practical suggestions which the Secretary of State is taking very seriously," said a spokesman.

Gunmen vow revenge

Meanwhile, security chiefs in the province are braced for a violent backlash after the funeral of murdered Loyalist Volunteer Force leader Wright.

Police surveillance on Catholic bars has intensified amid fears of a strike by loyalist paramilitary gunmen who vow revenge.

Thousands followed Wright's cortege through Portadown, Co Armagh, on Tuesday to the cemetery two miles from where he lived.

Wright, 37, nicknamed King Rat and one of the most ruthless of loyalist paramilitaries, was shot on Saturday inside the Maze where he was serving eight years for intimidating a woman neighbour.

Police believe the killing of an ex-republican prisoner Seamus Dillon, 45, just hours after the INLA assassination at the Maze may have signalled the start of a new offensive.


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