Concern that loyalists may end their ceasefire


THERE was immediate concern after the Aldwych bomb that loyalist paramilitary leaders may seriously consider an end to their ceasefire. Mr Gary McMichael, leader of the Ulster Democratic Party, the political wing of the UDA, this morning expressed his worry about its fragility.

He emphasised the IRA must not be allowed to wreck the peace process. Of the loyalist paramilitary leaders, he said: "I would imagine they are looking at the situation very closely."

He said it was his belief that "every explosion that the IRA do, then it has implications for the strength of the loyalist ceasefire and it plunges us deeper into the prospect of a full scale resumption of violence".

After the Docklands bomb the loyalist paramilitary leaders decided to maintain their ceasefires but to keep the situation under review. The UVF and UDA leaderships said then they would reconsider whether to maintain their ceasefire if the IRA campaign escalated. It was indicated a more hardline attitude would have been taken had the bomb been in Northern Ireland.

It is understood some paramilitary activists were expected to argue for reprisals in Dublin if the IRA continued setting off bombs in London.

Alter the Docklands bomb, Mr McMichael said it was vital to establish whether the IRA planned a return to full scale violence.