BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: UK: N Ireland  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
England
N Ireland
Scotland
Wales
Politics
Education
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Wednesday, 4 September, 2002, 12:06 GMT 13:06 UK
Paramilitaries 'to blame' for violence
Northern Ireland Secretary John Reid in Cluan Place, East Belfast
Dr Reid met loyalist residents in Cluan Place
Paramilitaries from both sides of the community have been blamed by the Northern Ireland Secretary for on-going violence at an east Belfast interface.

Tensions at the flashpoint area have been high throughout the summer and serious rioting in June led to a call from unionist politicians for the government to review all paramilitary ceasefires.

John Reid made his comments on Wednesday during a visit to the area, where he first met loyalist residents of Cluan Place.

Later, he had talks with nationalist residents in the Short Strand.


The first thing that we have to do is recognised that the blame game - everybody blaming everybody else - has to stop

John Reid
Northern Ireland Secretary

"The paramilitaries and some of the young hotheads are interwoven with the community because we've all had trouble over the years," said Dr Reid.

"The first thing that we have to do is recognised that the blame game - everybody blaming everybody else - has to stop.

"There are good, decent people here who are going through hell - some of them for 30 years - on both sides, and the first thing that the paramilitaries have got to recognise is that they are not defending their communities.

"They are destroying them."

Some of the residents on the loyalist side of the peace line told him he was six weeks too late.

One carried a placard describing him as "Dr Dolittle".

Jean Barnes, of the East Belfast Women's Concern Group, blamed the IRA for the trouble.

David Trimble after meeting Tony Blair in London
David Trimble: Wants government action

"The IRA has an awful lot to answer for.

"If you go around all the interface areas there is a lot of disruption and that has come about by them wanting to expand, expand and burn the people out of their own homes."

Dr Reid met families still living in loyalist Cluan Place, and visited several homes including, the burned out shell of one which was daubed with the slogan "Burnt out by IRA scum".

He also met political representatives in the area including DUP assembly member Sammy Wilson and representatives from the Loyalist Ulster Political Research Group and Progressive Unionist Party.

Nationalist residents of Clandeboye Gardens also expressed anger when Dr Reid visited them.

They said loyalist paramilitaries were engaging in a pogrom against their community and said police officers were not welcome in the area.

"This community has been under siege these past few months," said one resident.

Dr Reid told residents that aggression was not the answer.

"I understand the anger of Catholics and Protestants," he said.

'Serious attack'

As he toured the houses, residents held pieces of paper quoting from the Good Friday Agreement, stating everyone had "the right to live free from sectarian harassment".

Assistant Chief Constable for Belfast Alan McQuillan said the significant majority of violence had come from loyalist paramilitary groups.

Alan McQuillan: Assistant chief constable for Belfast
Alan McQuillan: Blamed paramilitaries for organising the violence
He said when he was appointed to his post 18 months ago there had been no need for military back-up apart from during the loyalist marching season.

"Military brigades are now common on the street virtually every night," he said.

The leading officer said violence had been perpetrated by paramilitaries on both sides.

However, he added: "The significant majority of serious violence, serious attack, in my view, has come from loyalist groupings.

"Much of that has been directed at the Catholic community and at my officers."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC NI's Mark Simpson:
"The secretary of state came to east Belfast to see for himself"
BBC NI's Mark Simpson:
"Dr Reid told residents he believes that paramilitaries from both sides are to blame"
See also:

20 Aug 02 | N Ireland
11 Aug 02 | N Ireland
08 Aug 02 | N Ireland
05 Jun 02 | N Ireland
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more N Ireland stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more N Ireland stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes