Loyalists demand halt to attacks

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The Independent Online
LOYALISTS YESTERDAY demanded government action to root out dissident republican terror groups amid fears of escalating attacks.

Gary McMichael, leader of the Ulster Democratic Party, told Mo Mowlam, the Northern Ireland Secretary, of the loyalist community's increasing concerns.

Their meeting at Stormont followed a gun attack on a Royal Ulster Constabulary station in Lurgan, Co Armagh, early yesterday and bombings at the weekend.

The "Real" IRA yesterday claimed responsibility for a car bomb which devastated the centre of Banbridge, Co Down, and fire bombs in two Belfast shops and a pub.

Mr McMichael said: "There needs to be a quick and strong security response to root these people out of society before they become a more potent threat than they already are.

"If it is not nipped in the bud, it will become more unmanageable and more uncontrollable."

Mo Mowlam said she knew that dissident groups were trying to wreck the peace process and must not be given room to operate.

"I don't think it is any mistake that much of the acts we have seen by the destructive splinter groups in the past couple of weeks have been in First Minister David Trimble's constituency," she said.

Mr Trimble became leader of the Northern Ireland assembly after the recent elections.

Although the security forces were doing "all they can," Ms Mowlam said the community could help by gathering information and passing it to the authorities.