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The BBC's Valerie Jones
"The presence of Loyalist paramilitaries has haunted the marching season"
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Gerry Douglas, Orange Order Grand Master
"This is the only thing left open to them"
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Wednesday, 12 July, 2000, 08:24 GMT 09:24 UK
Man killed in NI violence
Bonfires were lit across Northern Ireland
A man shot dead in Northern Ireland on Tuesday night is thought to have had links with loyalist paramilitaries, the BBC has learned.

The killing happened during a night of loyalist violence linked to the Protestant Orange Order's Drumcree marching dispute.

Security and loyalist sources say the man who died had links with the paramilitary Ulster Volunteer Force, and it appears the killing could be the result of a dispute between loyalist factions.

It came as Protestants lit bonfires across Northern Ireland on the eve of the "Twelfth", the day they traditionally celebrate victory at the Battle of the Boyne.

Thousands of Orangemen, involving 1,500 lodges, are marching to rallies across the province on Wednesday to celebrate the anniversary of the 1690 defeat of Catholic King James by Protestant King William of Orange.

Police found the man's body near a bonfire at Larne in County Antrim after midnight.

The BBC has learned that the killing, on the Old Glenarm Road in Larne, may have involved loyalist paramilitaries. The police have said it was not sectarian.

When police arrived at the scene of the killing, they were hindered by a large crowd, and officers in riot gear were called in.

Democratic Unionist Party councillor Jack McKee was at the bonfire and heard shots.

"A man was murdered in our midst within sight of hundreds of people," he said.

"People were standing all around in their hundreds, although it was dark about ten past twelve apart from the glow of the fire."

Tuesday night saw further unrest in Northern Ireland over the ban on an Orange parade along the mainly nationalist Garvaghy Road in Portadown, County Armagh.

On the Shankill Road in west Belfast, loyalist paramilitaries - thought to be four masked men and a woman - fired volleys of shots from a variety of automatic and handguns.

Shots were fired at the scene of another bonfire on Sandy Row, near Belfast city centre.

There was also trouble in Portadown, where 21 police officers and several soldiers were injured during a night of rioting.

A volley of shots was fired in defiance in west Belfast
A volley of shots was fired in defiance in west Belfast
Water cannon and plastic bullets were used to disperse crowds of protesters after security forces were attacked with petrol bombs and fireworks.

A blast bomb exploded at security force lines, a soldier was hit by a petrol bomb and a woman colleague was struck in the face by a firework.

A crowd of more than 500 people cheered as an effigy of an RUC officer in riot gear was set alight on a bonfire on Portadown's Corcrain Road, watched by dozens of RUC officers a few hundred yards away.

Elsewhere, army explosives experts made safe two small explosive devices found at a pub in Dunloy, and at a Catholic social hall at Rossnashane, both in County Antrim.

There were also arson attacks on two churches and an Orange hall.

An ambulance crew responding to an emergency call was beaten up after being attacked in a loyalist area of west Belfast.

The fire service dealt with more than 400 calls during the night.

RUC Chief Constable Sir Ronnie Flanagan has rebuked the Orange Order for not calling off the protests.

'Slipping into anarchy'

"When you bring people out on to the streets in these circumstances, and there are people of malevolent intent in the wings just waiting for the opportunity, I think those who present that opportunity cannot fully evade responsibility," he said.

Sir Ronnie also rejected accusations that the RUC was standing back.

"I understand the apprehension of people who fear we are slipping into anarchy but I ask them to bear with us, he said.

Bishop Walsh: Families living in fear
"We are doing all that is humanly possible. We need the support of all right-thinking people.

"Although we have difficult days to face, I have every confidence we will come though," he stressed."

Meanwhile, tens of thousands of Orangemen are expected to take to the streets on Wednesday to mark the climax of the marching season, with parades expected in many towns and villages.

On Tuesday, the Catholic Bishop of Down and Connor, Patrick Walsh said that Northern Ireland was in danger of "sliding into anarchy".

"Entire communities are being harassed and intimidated and many families are living in dread," he said.

"Those who are orchestrating violence and fomenting passions and hatred by bitter speeches bear an awesome responsibility.

"What they are doing cannot be justified. What they are doing is morally wrong."

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See also:

12 Jul 00 | Northern Ireland
Marching season reaches peak
11 Jul 00 | UK
Curse of the anniversary?
11 Jul 00 | Northern Ireland
Q & A: Drumcree protests
10 Jul 00 | Northern Ireland
Where the protests are
11 Jul 00 | Northern Ireland
Prosecution fear for road block buster
10 Jul 00 | Northern Ireland
Trimble rejects assembly recall
10 Jul 00 | Northern Ireland
Picture gallery: Loyalist protests
10 Jul 00 | Northern Ireland
Sites of Orange protests
11 Jul 00 | Northern Ireland
RUC chief appeals for support
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