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[0] IRA BOSS LED ULSTER RIOTS; RUC vows to hunt down Provo ringleaders.


A MURDEROUS IRA boss organised the Belfast riots which left 113 police injured, security forces believe.

The notorious thug commands Provo units in the city's Ardoyne area - where rioting continued until early yesterday - and has been spotted at most of the recent violence.

Police are convinced the man organised youngsters at the forefront of Thursday's riots. More than 260 petrol bombs and at least two blast bombs were hurled at police by about 200 nationalist youths.

Pledging to hunt down the ringleaders, RUC Chief Constable Sir Ronnie Flanagan confirmed yesterday the mayhem was planned.

He said: "People do not spontaneously have available acid bombs, blast bombs and angle grinders to cut down lamp posts to block roads. This was orchestrated. I have little doubt about that."

The terrorist commander has also been personally involved in a number of murders since the IRA ceasefire. Among them is the killing of Andrew Kearney, 33, shot in both legs and left to bleed to death after flooring the terror chief for bullying a younger man in a local pub.

Thursday's trouble began when the RUC tried to clear nationalist protesters blocking the route of local Orangemen returning home from their annual July 12 parades.

Officers met missiles with almost 50 baton rounds and used water canon on the streets of Belfast for the first time in nearly 30 years.

Sir Ronnie defended his men against allegations that they were heavy-handed with the protesters.

He said: "Had we not been there, I have no doubt lives would have been at risk." The riots cast a shadow over efforts to get the peace process back on track. Tony Blair warned yesterday it could be the last chance.

Prospects of a breakthrough looked bleak. But No 10 said the Premier and his Irish counterpart, Bertie Ahern, would tell the parties this would be their best opportunity.

Mr Blair's official spokesman said: "This is the time to resolve issues."

The talks at Weston Park mansion, in Staffordshire, are expected to go on through the night. But they will have to end by Monday when Mr Ahern flies out on a trade trip.

Downing Street also made it clear they wanted quicker progress.

The spokesman said: "The Prime Minister does not expect to spend his weekend at Weston Park."

Concern over IRA arms decommissioning, policing and demilitarisation have stalled the peace process.

The current crisis was brought about when Unionist leader David Trimble resigned as Northern Ireland First Minister. He has refused to continue until the IRA begins to decommission its weapons.


DAMAGE: West Belfast yesterday
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jul 14, 2001
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