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BBC's Brian Rowan on moves to end loyalist feud
Fourteen senior loyalist will attend the meeting
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Friday, 17 November, 2000, 21:35 GMT
Loyalist feud truce hopes

Leading members of rival loyalist paramilitary groups have held "constructive " talks aimed at ending a feud which has left seven men dead.

The dispute between the Ulster Defence Association/Ulster Freedom Fighters (UDA/UFF) and the rival Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) erupted in Belfast in July.

It is thought representatives from the UDA, UVF and its sister organisation the Red Hand Commando, held talks which could end the loyalist infighting in west and north Belfast.

The talks took place on Friday afternoon and were described as "constructive".

It is now believed that the senior loyalist figures will brief their respective paramilitary groups on the discussions.

According to loyalist sources, the UDA's so-called inner council was to meet first on Friday, ahead of planned talks with members of the UVF and Red Hand Commando.

Fourteen of the most senior figures in the loyalist paramilitary leaderships were then expected at that second meeting.

There was no formal announcement after the meetings.

Scheduled before

Later on Friday, the Progressive Unionist Party's David Ervine said he was hopeful that progress could be made but warned it may take time.

The PUP has links to the Ulster Volunteer Force.

Mr Ervine said: "It's evident to me that those guys who have been meeting are determined that not only should they heal the pain of the last 16 weeks but they should never have a recurrence.

"I think quick fixes are not the answer.

"They have taken their time and they are going to take perhaps another shot at it and that will, I hope, create a resolution of this problem."

The meeting was brokered by four senior loyalists who have been talking for weeks.

A similar meeting had been scheduled earlier this month to deal with the feud on the Shankill Road in west Belfast.

That dispute erupted at a UDA-linked festival and saw three men murdered and more than 200 people forced out of their homes.

However, that meeting had to be cancelled because of killings in the north of the city which erupted last month leaving four men dead and one seriously injured.

It was thought to have been separate from the infighting in west Belfast as it involved local factions of the two loyalist organisations.

Security sources said it flared up following an argument in a Belfast pub.

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See also:

08 Nov 00 | Northern Ireland
Investigation into loyalist murder
06 Nov 00 | Northern Ireland
Family call for end to 'murder madness'
31 Oct 00 | Northern Ireland
Man dies after 'reprisal' shooting
30 Oct 00 | Northern Ireland
Killing 'not linked' to loyalist feud
30 Oct 00 | Northern Ireland
Talks call after Belfast murder
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