Rallies urge politicians to put peace first: Thousands gather to condemn Ulster violence as Dublin campaigner flies to Belfast and London for demonstrations

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IRISH peace crusaders told politicians to make peace in Ireland their number one priority at rallies in Northern Ireland and London yesterday, writes David Connett.

Susan McHugh, who has called on the people of Ireland to rise against the IRA, took her campaign for non-violence to Belfast, then addressed several thousand people in Hyde Park, London, yesterday. The Irish woman who addressed 10,000 at a mass rally in Dublin last Sunday made an emotional plea to all politicians and terrorist groups to negotiate a settlement.

Her campaign began after last month's Warrington bomb killed Johnathan Ball, three, and Timothy Parry, 12. Mrs McHugh, 37, supported by her husband, Arthur, and their two children, said: 'I ask the terrorists to look at their own children and stop. They saw what happened to little Johnathan Ball and they must know what it would be like to lose a precious child.

'My message to everyone is to reach out and help bring an end to all the shooting and bombing. Little Johnathan's death was no greater tragedy than all the other children who have died.'

She played down her own part. 'This isn't about me motivating people. All these people are motivating themselves. It's going to be a long haul but we're not going to give up now. The movement for peace throughout Ireland and Great Britain is growing.'

Liam Cleere, 32, an Irish builder, who organised the London rally, praised police for their prompt yet peaceful handling of an 'uninvited' counter-demonstration by about 30 people campaigning for British troops to leave Ireland.

Up to 2,000 nationalists marched through West Belfast, protesting at alleged security force violence and to counter anti-IRA rallies across Ireland backing the Peace 93 group organised by Mrs McHugh.

At smaller peace rallies across Northern Ireland - including Maghera, Co Londonderry, where four Catholic workmen were gunned down last month - hundreds of Protestants and Catholics united to call for an end to terrorism.

Colin Welch, page 20

(Photograph omitted)