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Tuesday, January 20, 1998 Published at 04:52 GMT


Tit-for-tat murders in N Ireland
image: [ Police cordon off the Ormeau Road following the second sectarian murder within 12 hours ]
Police cordon off the Ormeau Road following the second sectarian murder within 12 hours

A Catholic taxi driver has been shot and killed in Belfast on Monday night just hours after a Protestant shopkeeper was murdered in the city.

BBC Correspondent, June Kelly reports from Belfast Dur 0' 45"
52-year-old Larry Brennan was hit four times as he sat in a car outside his company offices, Enterprise Taxis, on the Ormeau Road. He was treated at the scene by ambulance staff before being taken to hospital where he later died from his injuries.

Mr Brennan lived in the nationalist Markets area, about a mile from where he was murdered.

Police believe one, or possibly two, gunmen were involved but it is not known if they escaped on foot or were driven off.

[ image: The scene of the latest murder]
The scene of the latest murder
'Senseless act'

RUC Chief Constable Bill Stewart said: "This is another senseless and indiscriminate act which can achieve nothing, only further suffering. "I appeal to all people of influence to do all in their power to prevent further bloodshed."

He was the second man to be shot dead in the city over a 12 hour period and although no organisation admitted responsibility, police blamed loyalists.


Police said they believed the driver was killed in retaliation for the republican INLA murder earlier on Monday of Jim Guiney, 38, who was gunned down at his carpet shop at Dunmurry in south-west Belfast.

Mr Guiney, a married father of four, was alone in the shop when two gunmen entered. Police said several shots were fired and he died almost instantly.

The gunmen, one believed to be wearing a wig, ran out of the back of the shop and across a railway track to a waiting red car and sped off.

A red Ford Sierra had been hijacked two hours before the killing in the nationalist Suffolk area of west Belfast and was found ablaze in the Twinbrook area just six minutes after the killing.

[ image: Jim Guiney was the latest victim of a series of recent sectarian killings]
Jim Guiney was the latest victim of a series of recent sectarian killings
The shootings which brought the number of sectarian killings in Northern Ireland in the last month to seven occurred on the day Sinn Fein leaders met British Prime Minister Tony Blair at Downing Street.

They come a day after the Loyalist Volunteer Force shot a Catholic man and promised more murders.

The LVF also said it murdered Terry Enwright, the husband of the niece of the Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams. It said the killings were to revenge the murder of its leader, Billy Wright in the Maze Prison.

Appeals for restraint

[ image: Mo Mowlam begged people not to retaliate]
Mo Mowlam begged people not to retaliate
The Northern Ireland Secretary Mo Mowlam expressed her shock at the latest killings. She told BBC 2's Newsnight programme: "It's a serious and appalling situation that three more families are having to go through grief and suffering that so many have gone through before.

"I'm determined not to let our will be broken by these groups, these splinter groups ... they are just interested in breaking the peace talks. I hope we will show our determination not to let them succeed."

She continued: "In the talks today, and the talks that the Prime Minister and I had with Sinn Fein at No 10 today, there's a determination across all the parties to show the courage and determination not to let the talks be splintered and broken down by these groups.

Northern Ireland Secretary Mo Mowlam: "serious and appalling situation". Dur 2' 36"
"We have a duty to do all we can ... to move the talks forward. I just appeal to people not to retaliate, and to put their will into taking the talks forward, because the fear in the communities tonight is very great.

She appealed to both traditions in the province: "Back the talks process, back the politicians that are trying."

Irish condemnation

The Irish Foreign Minister David Andrews condemned the killing and urged those responsible for recent murders to "desist from their attempts to destroy the peace process."

"At all costs, Northern Ireland must not be plunged back into a further depressing spiral of violence," he said.

The Ulster Unionist MP for the area of Belfast where the shooting occurred condemned all violence.

Jeffrey Donaldson said: "The INLA is out to wreck the talks process and push Northern Ireland back into widespread confrontation. It is their objective and we should not lose sight of that."

Sinn Fein's chariman Mitchell McLoughlin said the killings "did absolutely nothing in the search for inclusive peace."

But he said if the political process failed to provide a viable alternative there was a "predictability about the fact that people would continue to die."

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