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Friday, 30 August, 2002, 08:33 GMT 09:33 UK
Paramilitaries urged to halt disorder
Firework explodes close to police in east Belfast
Police have come under regular attack in east Belfast
One of Northern Ireland's most senior church leaders has urged paramilitaries to suspend their violence to facilitate attempts to end Belfast's sectarian rioting.

There was a heightened security presence in east Belfast on Thursday night following the previous evening's violence which left 16 soldiers injured.

The security operation was put in place after a senior police officer blamed the loyalist Ulster Volunteer Force and the IRA for orchestrating the violence in that part of the city.

Sectarian violence has flared at flashpoint areas of north and east Belfast in recent months.

On Friday, Church of Ireland Primate Archbishop Robin Eames urged paramilitaries to call a halt to the disturbances.

Archbishop Robin Eames
Archbishop Robin Eames: Direct appeal to paramilitaries

"It's in the interests of everybody before this gets completely out of control to draw back for a period in which we know there are people working very hard to try and bring some sort of peace," he said.

"Give those efforts a chance by allowing us to have a period when we say: `Look, stop it all, we are going to try to get to an agreement that's going to prevent lives being lost.

"If this continues lives will be lost."

Dr Eames made his appeal after the Police Service of Northern Ireland's Assistant Chief Constable for Belfast, Alan McQuillan, accused the IRA and UVF of fuelling the trouble.

Extra security was drafted into flashpoint areas such as the Short Strand area in east Belfast where loyalists and nationalists have clashed.

Alan McQuillan: Assistant Chief Constable
Alan McQuillan: Blamed paramilitaries on both sides

New police tactics were in evidence on Thursday night with officers providing a buffer between the two communities.

Dr Eames said people living in the most volatile areas were being manipulated by the terror organisations.

He said there was a willingness on both sides to try to find a solution.

But he told BBC Radio Ulster: "I'm appealing with any moral authority I may have, particularly in loyalist organisations.

"We have got to recognise the dangers in this situation."


Meanwhile, Sinn Fein chairman Mitchel McLaughlin has strongly denied Mr McQuillan's claims of IRA involvement in the violence.

He accused the police chief of being "provocative", and said Mr McQuillan had got it "disastrously wrong" over past claims of IRA involvement in trouble in Londonderry and north Belfast.

He added: "He got it wrong last night here again."

But Sammy Wilson of the Democratic Unionist Party said the police were finally getting their strategy right.

"We have now got the police to engage in tactics which, I think, can help to break the cycle of violence and give people breathing space, where we now have an equality of policing on both sides of the interface."

The Security Minister, Jane Kennedy, has said she will be discussing the violence in Belfast with the new chief constable, Hugh Orde, on Monday.

Northern Ireland First Minister David Trimble has also held talks with Police Service Acting Chief Constable Colin Cramphorn about continuing sectarian violence in east and north Belfast.

Church of Ireland Primate Robin Eames:
"We have got to take a stand now"
See also:

29 Aug 02 | N Ireland
29 Aug 02 | N Ireland
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21 Aug 02 | N Ireland
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