Parties heckled at Hillsborough talks

The SDLP, Sinn Féin and the Ulster Unionist Party all came under verbal attack from a handful of loyalist protestors today as they arrived to take part in crisis talks at Hillsborough Castle.

The pro-agreement parties met the Prime Minister Tony Blair and Irish Taoiseach Bertie Ahern separately for talks about the current lack of confidence in the peace process.

As David Trimble arrived loyalist protesters stood outside displaying banners describing him as a traitor.

As the SDLP delegation arrived it too was taunted by the small crowd as it entered the talks venue in County Down.

Meanwhile as the Sinn Féin delegation led by Gerry Adams arrived, there were chants of “murdering scum”.

The current crisis talks were requested by Ulster Unionist Party leader David Trimble in order to highlight unionist concerns over the validity of the IRA ceasefire and Sinn Féin’s role in the power-sharing government.

Unionist concerns centre on allegations: that the IRA tested weapons in Colombia while training Marxist rebels; were behind the break-in at a top security police station; orchestrated street violence in Belfast and had a hit-list of judges, politicians, forensic scientists, police and Army.

Meanwhile Sinn Féin who has denied the allegations, blame loyalists for the interface violence and accuse elements within the security services of making false claims about republicans in an attempt to destabilise the peace process.

All the parties are expected to sit together later this evening for final round table talks once separate discussions have ended.


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