Mayhew warns on IRA violence

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The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Sir Patrick Mayhew, warned yesterday that the current wave of IRA activity was intended as part of a build-up to "full violence" by republicans.

He was speaking in the wake of the latest IRA attack, in which a mortar bomb was fired at a police patrol in west Belfast on Monday night. No one was injured in the incident.

Security is being steadily increased, with the appearance of more roadchecks and other precautions, as the Army and police brace themselves for further attacks. The terrorist campaign is by no means running at the level prior to the 1994 IRA ceasefire, but the frequency of incidents is increasing. Most have been aimed at the security forces. In Monday's incident terrorists took over a house in a nationalist area at Stockman's Park, holding a couple captive for more than three hours. When two RUC Land Rovers appeared a mortar bomb was fired through a hedge, but missed the vehicles and disintegrated on the road.Sir Patrick said: "This is part of a deliberately planned escalation to full violence by the IRA." Meanwhile, Sir Patrick continued with his attempts cope with the fallout from remarks by Ronnie Flanagan, the RUC Chief Constable, on Monday, when he blamed loyalists for two recent bomb incidents.

The Government had clearly been reluctant to press the issue, fearing that it could result in the ejection of loyalist political representatives from the Stormont political talks.Sir Patrick declared: "If there is sufficient evidence as a question of fact to show that either of the small loyalist parties at the talks are inextricably linked with people who committed these things then they must take the consequences." However, the political consensus appears to be that the loyalists should be allowed to remain at Stormont.