Ceasefire fear after UVF man is shot dead
Wednesday 30 October 1996
The killing, shortly before 2am yesterday, at first led to concern that the fragile loyalist ceasefire was collapsing. Within hours, however, both loyalists and security sources said paramilitary groups had not been involved in the death.
Both the security forces and loyalists maintain that the motive for the shooting was financial rather than political, though the dead man was, until last week, a senior figure in the illegal Ulster Volunteer Force.
He was Thomas George Stewart, 32, a father of two, who was shot several times as he walked near his home in the tough Ballysillan area.
Stewart was UVF commander in north Belfast until last Friday, when he and another senior UVF man were "stood down" by the organisation.
Loyalists said the two had been responsible for a "homer" - the armed robbery of a local post office.
The UVF men had denied involvement in the hold-up, in which pounds 50,000 was said to have been stolen, but loyalists said the UVF had established they were responsible.
The killing appears connected not with this episode but with another incident some weeks ago, when Stewart and his colleague fired shots at an ex-UVF member in another dispute over money.
Loyalists and security sources said they believed it was this ex-UVF member who was behind the attack on Stewart. They speculate that he believes the organisation would not seek revenge for the killing of a member who had been stood down in disgrace. A man and woman were yesterday in custody for questioning about the shooting.
A decade ago Stewart faced serious terrorist charges in a big "supergrass" case, but escaped conviction. His associate who was expelled with him last Friday took part in talks with government officials last year.
Mr Major, in agreeing to meet loyalist representatives in three weeks' time, specified that the meeting would only take place if the ceasefire held. He will meet the Ulster Democratic Party, which represents the Ulster Defence Association, and the Progressive Unionists, who speak for the UVF.
The Prime Minister and his Irish counterpart, John Bruton, have established fresh telephone contact over the faltering peace process. The latest exchanges were at the weekend, and concentrated on the timing of Sinn Fein's entry into all-party talks in the event of a ceasefire restoration on the part of their IRA allies.
- 1 Moscow voted the world's unfriendliest city
- 2 The excuses your boss is most likely to believe when you call in sick
- 3 I'm pansexual – here are the five biggest misconceptions about my sexuality
- 4 More than 11,000 Icelanders offer to house Syrian refugees to help European crisis
- 5 If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don’t change Europe’s attitude to refugees, what will?
Climate change: 2015 will be the hottest year on record 'by a mile', experts say
Senior British politicians tell David Cameron: When dead children are being washed up on beaches, it's time to act
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don’t change Europe’s attitude to refugees, what will?
If you're not already angry about the refugee crisis, here's a history lesson to remind you why you really should be
Theresa May says migrants should be banned from entering the UK unless they have jobs lined up
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This recognized leader in providing software s...
£40000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support company has a n...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A works engineer is required in a progressive ...