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N.Ireland plans protests against IRA dissidents

N.Ireland plans protests against IRA dissidents

Labor union leaders called on workers across Northern Ireland to protest Wednesday against Irish Republican Army dissidents behind a surge of shootings that have killed three people and wounded four others.
Northern Ireland newspapers and leaders of the four major church denominations _ Roman Catholic, Presbyterian, Anglican and Methodist _ urged the entire community to denounce the killers with one voice.
"End this madness," urged a front-page editorial in the Belfast Telegraph alongside photographs of the three slain men: 48-year-old police Constable Stephen Carroll and two soldiers in the British Army's Royal Engineers: Cengiz "Patrick" Azimkar, 21, and Mark Quinsey, 23.
The Continuity IRA shot Carroll through the back of the head Monday night as he sat in a patrol car. Another splinter group, the Real IRA, gunned down the two army engineers, and wounded two other soldiers and two pizza delivery men, Saturday night as Afghanistan-bound troops collected a final Northern Ireland meal at the entrance of their base.
The leaders of Northern Ireland's power-sharing government departed Wednesday for the United States to seek increased American support for their peace process.
The leaders of the 22-month-old coalition of British Protestants and Irish Catholics have twice canceled the start of their U.S. tour, which was supposed to focus on defending and promoting U.S. business investment in their land of 1.7 million people.
As they left Wednesday, aides to First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness conceded that their trip now was likely to attract much greater U.S. attention _ but for all the wrong reasons, amid worries that Northern Ireland could be sliding back into a conflict long kept at bay by the Good Friday peace accord of 1998.
But the recent killings have already had the effect of bonding Robinson, long a bitter Protestant opponent of the IRA, and McGuinness, a longtime IRA commander, more closely together than ever before. They rarely appeared in public together before Tuesday, when they stood shoulder to shoulder with Northern Ireland police chief Hugh Orde and appealed for citizens shielding the IRA dissidents in their communities to identify them to police.
Within hours of that appeal, police raided homes in a Catholic district of Craigavon, southwest of Belfast, near the spot where Carroll was killed, and arrested a 17-year-old boy and 37-year-old man. They were being questioned Wednesday at the police's main interrogation center in Antrim, the town west of Belfast where Saturday's Real IRA attack took place.
Robinson and McGuinness are scheduled to visit Los Angeles, New York City and Washington, where they conclude their visit with a White House meeting on St. Patrick's Day, March 17, with U.S. President Barack Obama.
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Updated : 2021-06-24 21:05 GMT+08:00