Patrols stepped up over loyalist feud
25/05/2004 - 16:58:57

Well over 100 police officers and soldiers have been assigned to a violent loyalist paramilitary feud in Belfast, Northern Ireland’s Chief Constable revealed today.

As he hit out at the drug dealers behind the developing shooting war that has left one man dead, Hugh Orde also issued a contemptuous response to allegations that the security services were plotting with one of the terrorist factions.

Progressive Unionist leader David Ervine, whose party is linked to the Ulster Volunteer Force, claimed police were colluding with the rival Loyalist Volunteer Force.

But after talks with the Northern Ireland Secretary Paul Murphy and his security minister Ian Pearson, Mr Orde challenged the PUP chief by declaring: “He needs to put up or shut up.

“If he’s got evidence we have an independent, vigorous investigator of complaints against police.”

The Chief Constable met the British Secretary of State as the authorities attempted to quell heightening tensions on the streets of Belfast following the UVF murder of senior LVF man Brian Stewart, 34, who was gunned down in the east of the city last week.

Since then several bomb attacks and shooting incidents have been linked to the escalating dispute between the bitterly opposed organisations.

As he pledged to stop the gunmen wreaking terror in their communities, Mr Orde disclosed that patrols have been stepped up and Army units brought in to cope with the violence.

He said: “Over 100 officers would be deployed in this operation.”

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