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THEY'RE SCUM; RUC chief slams riot thugs 'out to murder'.

Byline: RYAN PARRY and JILLY BEATTIE

RUC chief Sir Ronnie Flanagan yesterday slammed rioters and said: "These scum are out to murder my men."

He was speaking after two days of riots which have plunged North Belfast into chaos and left nearly 100 police officers injured.

He said mobs were deliberately trying to murder his officers.

Sir Ronnie spoke after a special peace assembly Hazelwood Integrated College in North Belfast.

Sir Ronnie was at the school to see it receive the Team Harmony international award for peace.

He said: "My officers are being targeted for murder in these gun and bomb attacks.

"A total of 24 police officers were injured in the clashes with minor incidents occurring in other areas.

"The violence happened in an area where Catholics and Protestants live in close proximity and which has a history of sectarian tension."

Sir Ronnie echoed earlier security force assessments that the attacks were more orchestrated among loyalist paramilitaries.

He added: "That doesn't detract from the violence meted out by those on the nationalist side, but there's evidence of orchestration."

Yesterday, the situation in the Ardoyne area was quieter but a group of about 50 pupils and parents were again prevented from getting to the Holy Cross Girls' Primary school along the Ardoyne Road.

They were turned away at police lines and had to go to the school by another route.

Trouble continued on Thursday night and police were pelted with petrol bombs, paint bombs and stones as large crowds of both republican and loyalist youths clashed.

Meanwhile, Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble claimed last night that republicans were unlikely to cave in to pressure over the next few days for IRA disarmament.

With nine days before Mr Trimble's resignation as First Minister, the prospects of an IRA gesture looked increasingly unlikely.

After a round of talks at Hillsborough involving the British and Irish Governments and the pro-Good Friday Agreement parties, Mr Trimble gave his gloomiest assessment of the ability of the parties to break the deadlock.

The UUP leader said: "Unfortunately there is no sign of progress."

But Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness said: "We are under no circumstances going to accept that this responsibility was ours alone."

CAPTION(S):

ANGRY: Sir Ronnie Flanagan BLOCKED: Parents and kids on Ardoyne Road yesterday; FLAMES: Riot in Ardoyne
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jun 23, 2001
Words:385
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