3 June 2004 Edition

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LVF and UVF end feud

The Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) announced, in a statement released on Saturday 29 May, that it was calling a halt to its feud with the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF).

In its statement, the LVF said it would disarm and stand down members of its organisation who had been responsible for starting conflict with the UVF. The unionist paramilitary group called for mechanisms to be put in place to prevent any further feuds between unionist paramilitary organisations.

The feud between the two loyalist groupings had been escalating for several months before erupting in violence two weeks ago.

On 18 May Brian Stewart, the leader of the LVF in Holywood, County Down, was shot dead by the UVF as he arrived for work in East Belfast and over the last two weeks there were nearly a dozen gun and bomb attacks in East Belfast and North Down.

The majority of those attacks were carried out by the UVF, while the LVF are believed to have been behind two attacks.

Progressive Unionist Party leader David Ervine, whose party is aligned to the UVF, welcomed the LVF statement.

Meanwhile, an arms seizure on Wednesday 26 May in Longstone Drive in the Ballybeen Estate in East Belfast was linked to the loyalist feud. A number of loaded guns were found during searches of a house just yards away from where bomb and gun attacks were carried out earlier last week.

Loyalists get four star accommodation

Nationalist residents in North Belfast who were forced to flee their homes after loyalist attacks have accused the Housing Executive of discrimination after it was revealed that loyalist families displaced by the recent unionist paramilitary feud in East Belfast were put up in the upmarket Hilton Hotel in Belfast City Centre.

One family, forced out of their home in Deerpark by loyalist paramilitaries, said the double standard was a disgrace. "We were offered the choice of staying in a hostel or staying with a relative," the man said.

"I could not beIieve it, I was so angry. Why were those people put up in a hotel and we weren't? Is my life worth less? Where is the equality here?"

Sinn Féin housing spokesperson Fra McCann said he was not aware of such expensive accommodation being used to house people who claimed intimidation status in the past, other than during the last loyalist feud, when residents of the Shankill were placed in the Europa Hotel.

"Many nationalist resdents have had to register themselves as homeless due to loyalist intimidation but they were not offered exclusive accommodation," he said. "Despite the damning report into the Housing Executive's spending by the Audit Commission, it seems they still haven't learned valuable lessons."

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