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Monday, 30 July, 2001, 19:15 GMT 20:15 UK
Trimble: Call off loyalist violence
UFF mural in Belfast
RUC says senior UDA figures involved in recent violence
The Ulster Unionist leader has called on loyalist paramilitaries to end their campaign of violence following the murder of a teenager near Belfast.

His appeal came as RUC Chief Constable Sir Ronnie Flanagan said the possibility that the UDA murdered a teenager in County Antrim on Sunday night was a "line of inquiry we will be actively following up".

The murder of 18-year-old Gavin Brett in Glengormley has sent a shockwave through the whole community in Northern Ireland.

Sir Ronnie said he believed Mr Brett, a Protestant, was murdered by loyalists as he stood on a street corner with friends, because they thought he was a Catholic.

David Trimble is among politicians from all the parties who have condemned the "senseless and brutal" murder.

Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble
David Trimble: "Murder senseless"
In a statement on Monday afternoon, he called on loyalist paramilitaries, who say they are on ceasefire, to end their campaign of violence.

"I call on those with influence within loyalism to use it to bring an end to this madness," he said.

"Those who have influence within republicanism must equally use it to bring an end to their violence," Mr Trimble added.

Weeks of violence

Over several weeks, tensions between Protestant and Catholic residents living in interface areas in north and east Belfast have boiled over into sporadic street clashes.

Sir Ronnie Flanagan: Blamed loyalists for murder
Sir Ronnie Flanagan: "Loyalists murdered Mr Brett"
During this period Catholic and Protestant homes have been attacked in Belfast and around the rest of Northern Ireland.

However, in the majority of the attacks using pipe bombs and other crude bombs loyalists have targeted Catholics.

The Red Hand Defenders, a group which has been used as a cover name by both the Ulster Defence Association and the Loyalist Volunteer Force, said it murdered Gavin Brett on Sunday.

It also said it murdered 17-year-old Catholic Ciaran Cummings, who was shot as he was waiting for a lift to work at a County Antrim roundabout, on 4 July.

I have no doubt senior UDA figures have been directing some of the recent violenc

Sir Ronnie Flanagan
In a BBC interview on Monday, the RUC chief constable confirmed that elements of the UDA had been involved in recent pipe bomb attacks and a gun attack on the Ashton community centre in New Lodge, north Belfast this month.

Sir Ronnie said: "The UDA is an organisation, more and more of whose members are prepared to engage in violence on an almost daily basis.

"I have no doubt senior UDA figures have been directing some of the recent violence."

He said UDA involvement in Mr Brett's murder was being investigated, but that the police would not speculate until they were sure.

John Reid will meet security advisers on Tuesday
John Reid will meet security advisers on Tuesday
But he added: "This [Red Hand Defenders] is a flag of convenience used in the past but the UFF and the LVF. Taken collectively they represent the lowest form of so-called loyalist life.

"These people are prepared to killed on the basis that their victims may be Catholics."

The UDA withdrew its support for the Good Friday Agreement this month because of perceived concessions in the political process to republicans.

Northern Ireland Secretary John Reid has asked for an "urgent meeting" with Sir Ronnie on Tuesday and other security advisers to discuss the murder and other sectarian killings.

'No justification'

David Trimble resigned as Northern Ireland first minister on 1 July because of the IRA's refusal to disarm.

Gerry Adams has offered to meet the UDA leadership
Gerry Adams has offered to meet the UDA leadership
But he said that "unease within the broad unionist community about the present political position" was not justification for violence.

"Pipe bombings, petrol bombings and shootings by loyalist paramilitaries are bringing untold misery to thousands of people across Northern Ireland and they are undermining unionism," he said.

"Anyone within the loyalist community who thinks this type of violence furthers the loyalist cause or strengthens the Union is deluded."

Meanwhile, Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams has offered to meet the UDA leadership if it would help to end the violence.

At a press conference in west Belfast on Monday, Mr Adams said: "I am calling upon the leaders of unionism not only to declare their opposition to the sectarian attacks but to meet with the loyalist organisation that is involved.

"For my part I am prepared to meet with the UDA to make my position clear."

RUC Chief Constable Sir Ronnie Flanagan
tells the BBC's Brian Rowan that UDA involvement is one line of inquiry being investigated
See also:

30 Jul 01 | Northern Ireland
Father's frantic efforts to save son
27 Jul 01 | Northern Ireland
Officers injured during clashes
26 Jul 01 | Northern Ireland
SDLP questions loyalist ceasefire
10 Jul 01 | Northern Ireland
Loyalist anger over political process
01 Apr 01 | Northern Ireland
UDA blamed for gang attacks
29 Jul 01 | Northern Ireland
Gun battles in north Belfast
28 Jul 01 | Northern Ireland
Reid told 'loyalists behind violence'
17 Jan 01 | Northern Ireland
UDA upsurge in violence
30 Jul 01 | Northern Ireland
Pipe bombs damage houses
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