Page last updated at 19:05 GMT, Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Loyalists 'will not strike back'

Frankie Gallagher
Frankie Gallagher of the UPRG, which advises to the loyalist paramilitary UDA

Loyalist representatives have given assurances to Sinn Fein that paramilitary groups will not retaliate against dissident republican attacks.

Frankie Gallagher of the Ulster Political Research Group (UPRG), met Sinn Fein's Tom Hartley on Wednesday.

"We made a conscious decision that we would meet Sinn Fein to demonstrate to these people they will not create any more division," said Mr Gallagher.

Mr Hartley said nationalists and republicans would be "assured."

"It will really go a long way to assure people in the nationalist and republican community about the stability of the process that we are now involved in," said Mr Hartley, Belfast's lord mayor.

"There is a very loud voice right across the political spectrum that does not want to go back to the period of conflict, that wants to go forward to a period of stability and peace."

Thousands of people attended demonstrations across Northern Ireland on Wednesday to show their opposition to the killing of two soldiers by the Real IRA on Saturday and the shooting dead of policeman by the Continuity IRA on Monday.

Mr Gallagher said statements by First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness in the aftermath of the killings had shown "leadership" and "raised the bar to a new level".

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