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Last Updated: Friday, 28 May, 2004, 06:45 GMT 07:45 UK
Talks over feud violence
The UVF was behind the murder of Brian Stewart in east Belfast
The UVF was behind the murder of Brian Stewart in east Belfast

Ulster Unionists in east Belfast are to meet senior police officers to discuss violence linked to the loyalist paramilitary feud.

It comes amid claims that attendance at schools in the area is down and pubs are closing early because of the dispute.

The current feud between two outlawed paramilitary groups, the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) and the larger Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), has resulted in numerous attacks and left one man dead.

It is understood councillors are concerned with the increase in violence in the area and will call for security to be stepped up at Friday's meeting.

Ulster Unionist Jim Rodgers, a member of the Belfast District Policing Partnership, said the community had been brought to a standstill because of the feud.

I would appeal to the two loyalist organisations responsible to catch themselves on
Jim Rodgers
Ulster Unionist

"We're aware that several clergymen are working hard behind the scenes to bring about a resolution, but the police and Army need also to play their part," he said.

"The area is suffering terribly, with school attendances noticeably down, pubs and clubs closing early, and various events have either been postponed or cancelled.

"Up to 30 families have been forced to leave their homes and others are considering moving out.

"I would appeal to the two loyalist organisations responsible to catch themselves on instead of destroying their community."

It emerged on Thursday that the Housing Executive faces a bill for damages from Belfast's Hilton Hotel after people fleeing the loyalist feud stayed there at the weekend.

Property vandalised

The Executive had to provide them with emergency accommodation.

It now has to pay 240 to repair a vandalised mini-bar and fix water damaged carpets, but the Exective said it intended to recover the costs from the people concerned.

The Executive said it was legally obliged under the homelessness legislation to provide temporary accommodation on an emergency basis.

But it said there were cases when there was "no alternative" but to use hotel accommodation to temporarily house homeless people.

Since the murder of the LVF member Brian Stewart a little over a week ago, there have been several incidents.

The bulk of these have been linked to the UVF, but two attacks on Tuesday were carried out by the smaller LVF.

The LVF made an offer to suspend attacks for seven days to try to facilitate mediation to end the feud.

However, on Wednesday, the UVF made it clear that its position was unchanged.

Efforts to end loyalist feud
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24 May 04  |  Northern Ireland
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23 May 04  |  Northern Ireland
Bomb was 'substantial device'
22 May 04  |  Northern Ireland
Fresh appeal over killing
20 May 04  |  Northern Ireland
Long history of loyalists feuding
20 May 04  |  Northern Ireland

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