31/07/2001

Secretary of State attends urgent talks with Chief Constable Flanagan

The Northern Ireland Secretary of State, Dr John Reid has attended an urgent meeting on Tuesday evening with the Chief Constable to address the escalating sectarian violence in Belfast after which he said that the UDA ceasefire would be under constant review.

Dr Reid said that while the UDA ceasefire had not been abandoned, he had received reports from Chief Constable Flanagan indicating that there was an increasing number of members of the UDA participating in violence. He added: "I have asked the Chief Constable to give me a report in a week's time giving a full assessment of the UDA ceasefire."

Dr Reid said that at the urgent meeting he also discussed sectarian killings and pipe bomb attacks right across Northern Ireland with the Chief Constable and his security advisers.

He added: "The bigoted cowards responsible for random sectarian killings have nothing to offer but grief and heartache to the people of Northern Ireland. They must be stopped and they will be stopped."

Speaking before he went into the meeting, Dr Reid commented on the murder of Gavin Brett, who was shot dead by Loyalist paramilitaries on Sunday July 28. He stated: "I was disgusted by this cowardly murder of an innocent young man. My heart goes out to his family as they try to come to terms with this devastating blow. I want to be clear that our response to these sectarian killings will be tough and uncompromising”.Meanwhile the relatives of those killed in the Omagh bomb met with the Secretary of State in Stormont on Tuesday 31 July for two hours.

On the agenda were relatives concerns over compensation and the hunt for the bombers. Michael Gallagher who lost his son in the bomb blast in June 1998 said they had been assured that the investigation into the atrocity was still alive and active. The bomb blast three years ago killed 29 people and maimed hundreds of others. (AMcE)

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