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Wednesday, 12 July, 2000, 16:37 GMT 17:37 UK
Gun victim linked to UVF

Flowers are placed at the scene of the murder
Security and loyalist sources have said a man murdered in Northern Ireland on Tuesday night was linked to the loyalist paramilitaries.

Andy Cairns was shot at a bonfire at Larne in County Antrim just after midnight.

The 22-year-old was killed during a night of loyalist violence linked to the Protestant Orange Order's Drumcree marching dispute.

The sources said the man who died had links with the paramilitary Ulster Volunteer Force, and it appears the killing could be the result of a dispute with the rival loyalist group, the Ulster Defence Association.

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, marched to rallies across the province to celebrate the anniversary of the 1690 defeat of Catholic King James by Protestant Prince William of Orange.

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

The police have said the murder was not sectarian.

George Montgomery
George Montgomery: "Up to 12 involved in attack"
RUC detective inspector George Montgomery told the BBC that up to 12 people were involved in the attack.

He said the victim was kicked and punched, and then shot in the head when he was lying on the ground and died at the scene.

The police officer confirmed that an internal loyalist link to the shooting was one line of inquiry being pursued by the police.

Police are also investigating suggestions that a row took place in a local club before the shooting, which was carried out near a children's play park. However, no definite motive for the shooting has been established.

The scene of the shooting is cordoned off and people have been arriving with flowers. Cards accompanying the floral tributes depict the words "a true loyalist" and "true son of Ulster".
David Ervine
David Ervine: "Stunned by attack"

David Ervine of the Progressive Unionist Party, which has links with the UVF, said he was stunned by the killing.

"What is it that drives people to kill their own culture? What is it that about this madness that it is comfortable to take that human life in an instant, simply for what reason?

"The tragedy has to be.. why is a 22-year-old boy lying on a slab when his first and only desire was to go and celebrate his culture."

However, Mr Ervine said his understanding was that there was no feud between the loyalist factions.

When police arrived at the scene of the killing on Tuesday night, 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."

Floral tribute
One of the floral tributes left at the scene
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.

Security forces attacked

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.

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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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