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Thursday, January 1, 1998 Published at 16:42 GMT


'Dark days ahead' for Ulster
image: [ Dr Robin Eames ]
Dr Robin Eames

The Primate of the Church of Ireland, Dr Robin Eames, has said Northern Ireland is "at the beginning of a very dark and dangerous period", after the machine gun attack in a Belfast bar on New Year's Eve.

Two masked men burst into the Clifton bar in a Catholic enclave of north Belfast just after 2100GMT and sprayed the bar with bullets. One man, since named by neighbours as 31 year old Eddie Trainor, was killed and five people were injured.

[ image: The gunmen opened fire at random]
The gunmen opened fire at random
The attack is thought to be a revenge attack for the killing of the Protestant Paramilitary leader, Billy Wright, in the Maze prison.

No-one has yet claimed responsibility for the attack, but police and troops are on full alert, and possible Catholic targets have been warned to be on their guard.

Speaking on Irish radio, Dr Eames said: "Obviously we are all shocked and saddened to see what we had hoped was well behind us and well in the past."

But he also spoke of "a deep feeling of resentment" within Ulster's Protestant community over their treatment in the peace process.

[ image: Bullets were sprayed around the bar]
Bullets were sprayed around the bar
The attack came just days after the Ulster Unionist leader, David Trimble, met the Northern Ireland Secretary, Mo Mowlam, and warned her that Unionists were feeling increasingly isolated by the Government's continued concessions to Republicans.

However, Dr Eames issued a direct message to those involved in the murder. "You do not represent the majority in either of our communities ... get off our backs, stop it," he said.

Dr Eames' comments were echoed by his Catholic opposite number, Dr Sean Brady, who admitted he was aware of "deep fears there ... obviously they cannot be dismissed, but I think progress has been made, we must not lose sight of that".

The wave of tit-for-tat attacks in the wake of the murder of Billy Wright have also been condemned by the Irish government. Foreign Minister, David Andrews, said there could be no place in society for the "obscenities" of recent days.

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