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Friday, 11 August, 2000, 12:29 GMT 13:29 UK
'UFF death threat reinstated'
UFF men
UFF threatened to end its ceasefire in June
A loyalist politician has said the loyalist paramilitary Ulster Freedom Fighters group has reinstated a threat against anyone found attacking Protestant homes.

On 20 June Shankill UFF men threatened to break the organisation's ceasefire, saying it would "reserve the right to shoot any person seen to be attacking Protestant homes in north and west Belfast".

However the threat was lifted three days later under reported pressure from other sections of the UFF.

John White, chairman of the Ulster Democratic Party, which is linked to the UFF, said the organisation has told him the threat has been reinstated by the whole of the UFF following renewed attacks against Protestant homes by nationalists.

But Mr White said the threat did not mean the UFF's ceasefire, made at the same time as the other loyalist paramilitary groups in 1994, is over.

He said: "It doesn't have to be over.

"The UFF are saying that if loyalist homes are attacked they will shoot those attacking the homes. That would appear to me to be a defensive position.

"It doesn't necessarily mean a return to conflict."

Police attacked

The renewed threat came after loyalists fired shots at the police in the Shankill area of west Belfast on Thursday night as they investigated reports of a show of strength by the UFF.

John White
The UDP's John White: Threat after attacks on loyalists
Mr White said the UFF's sister organisation, the paramilitary Ulster Defence Association, had been patrolling the area to prevent attacks on loyalist homes by nationalists.

The police were investigating the Shankill parade area, where the local UFF battalion had called journalists to the area to witness an armed roadblock they had set up and where there were reports of shots being fired in the air.

A gunman fired a shot on Boundary Way as he and three accomplices were chased by the RUC patrol. A breeze block was also thrown through the back windscreen of the armoured car.

Mr White refused to condemn those involved in the armed roadblocks.

He said: "I condemn the shots fired at police, but I have witnessed the feelings of the people on the Shankill Road.

"There have been over 30 attacks on homes in recent months and last night this patrol was set up to prevent that."

Mr White added that when the UFF made its June threat, his party had appealed for it to be withdrawn so that talks could take place with nationalists living in interface areas. These had not been successful, he said.

Sinn Fein's Gerry Kelly
Gerry Kelly has refuted the claims of nationalist attacks
He said he would work "tirelessly" to try to get the new threat withdrawn, but he was not hopeful.

But Sinn Fein assemblyman Gerry Kelly denied that nationalists had carried out attacks and he condemned the UFF threat.

"The UDP, who have in some way was given credence to this UFF statement should come out and tell the UFF to withdraw the statement again, and they should be saying that they should not attack Catholics," he said."

Houses attacked

There were no injuries and no arrests during the Thursday night incident.

However, an elderly woman was injured during an attack on homes in a nationalist area of north Belfast at about the same time.

The police said that three car-loads of men attacked a row of houses at the junction of Crumlin Road and Butler Walk at about 2230 BST on Thursday night.

Six homes had their windows smashed and were daubed with paint.

An elderly woman living in one of the houses was treated for cuts and bruises to her stomach and leg.

The attacks followed a series of attacks on houses in loyalist areas of Belfast on Wednesday night.

Residents blamed republicans for the attacks on homes and cars in the Springmartin area, Denmark Street off the Shankill and Linfield Gardens in Sandy Row in which windows were smashed with bricks and vehicles were attacked with hammers.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
UDP chairman John White:
"Threat does not mean UFF ceasefire is over"
BBC NI's Gerry Bradley:
"Journalists were told threats against nationalists were being reinstated"

Analysis

Background

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See also:

20 Jun 00 | Northern Ireland
Appeal for calm after shooting threat
21 Jun 00 | Northern Ireland
Confrontation at peace line
20 Jun 00 | Northern Ireland
UFF issues shooting threat
10 May 00 | Northern Ireland
Call for loyalist arms move
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