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Sunday, 24 September, 2000, 09:52 GMT 10:52 UK
Loyalist violence 'out of control'

A Free Presbyterian minister has accused the British Government of letting the violence linked to a loyalist feud spiral out of control.

Reverend Alan Smylie, from the Shankill area of west Belfast, said the authorities seemed to be abdicating their responsibility to protect people and uphold the law.

He was speaking a day after hundreds took part in a march calling for an end to the feud between the rival loyalist paramilitary Ulster Freedom Fighters/Ulster Defence Association (UFF/UDA) and the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF).

The feud has left three men dead and seen more than 200 people intimidated out of their homes, since it erupted at a UDA-linked festival last month.

'People being hounded'

Reverend Smylie told BBC Radio Ulster's Sunday Sequence programme that lawlessness was prevailing in the area.

"People are in a situation where they are being hounded on every side," he said.

"What we're saying is... does the government want to see the Shankill Road destroyed?

"That is what is happening. Good people are going to be lost, good people are going to move out of the area and never return.

"That is the sad fact of what is happening even today."

On Saturday, prayers were said at the peace march, the latest in a number of church initiatives urging an end to the violence.

Jack McKee
Jack McKee: March gave people a voice

One of the march organisers, Protestant Pastor Jack McKee, said ordinary people were opposed to the violence.

He said the violence was "destroying" the local community.

Last week, a 32-year-old man became the latest victim of the feud.

Amin Khan blamed the UFF for firing at least five shots into his car as he delivered fast food in north Belfast on Wednesday night.

Mr Khan, who is a supporter of the Progressive Unionist Party, which has links to the UVF, said he had spoken out against drug dealers and believed the UFF had tried to silence him.

Meanwhile, loyalist parties have been in dispute about which paramilitary group was responsible for a van bomb attack on Monday.

Four men were injured when a device exploded under a van in High Street, Bangor in County Down. One man was critically injured.

The Ulster Democratic Party, which is linked to the UFF/UDA, said this group was responsible for the attack. It also said the attack was linked to the feud with the UVF.

But this was rejected by the PUP who said drug dealers linked to the splinter paramilitary group, the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) were responsible.

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See also:

20 Sep 00 | Northern Ireland
Man released without charge
19 Sep 00 | Northern Ireland
Man critical after NI blast
21 Sep 00 | Northern Ireland
Shooting linked to loyalist feud
23 Sep 00 | Northern Ireland
March calls for end to violent feud
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