12 February 1998 Edition
The rush to judgement
The hypocrisy of Unionists was laid bare this week in the wake of the shooting to death of a prominent loyalist and a drug dealer in Belfast. Unionist MP Martin Smyth issued an immediate statement accusing the IRA and calling for the removal of Sinn Féin from the talks. When eight Catholics were killed last month, some by the UDA in his own constituency, no such statements were issued.
Similarly David Trimble rushed to call for Sinn Féin's expulsion from the talks. This was in contrast to his prevarication over continuing UDP participation in talks last month.
The RUC has also been quick to brief journalists, pointing the finger at the IRA. Last month the RUC delayed and delayed before blaming the UDA on the killings of innocent Catholics, even though they had hard evidence available.
There is a concerted attempt to force Sinn Féin from the talks. Unionists and their friends in the RUC are desperate to see Sinn Féin expelled and their statements must be treated with a large dose of suspicion.
For their part, Sinn Féin has quite rightly said that they are in the talks on the basis of their electoral mandate. Without their participation, a solution is not possible.
Prominent loyalist and drug dealer killed
by Laura Friel
SINN Féin President Gerry Adams has accused unionists of ``a conspiracy of silence'' during the loyalist killing spree of a few weeks ago compared to their reaction to recent killings. ``It is of particular note that the Ulster Unionist Party has responded with great speed to implicate Sinn Fein in these killings and is threatening to indict Sinn Fein. People will not be fooled by this cynical and selective attitude by unionists,'' Adams said.
He was speaking after the deaths of prominent loyalist Robert Dougan and Brendan Campbell, a drug dealer from West Belfast.
The UDA leader was shot dead as he waited in his car outside a textile factory in Dunmurry on the outskirts of West Belfast. Shortly before 1.00pm on Tuesday, a lone gunman approached Dougan and shot him several times in the chest. He died at the scene.
Dougan has been described as a close associate of UDA leader Jim Guiney, shot dead by the INLA last month. Dougan was a prominent loyalist from the Suffolk area of Belfast who had survived two earlier gun attacks. A car, believed to have been used in the shooting, was later found burning in the nearby Twinbrook estate.
Meanwhile Portadown LVF leader, Mark ``Swinger'' Fulton claims he has been targeted by the UVF. According to Fulton, a masked gunman fired two shots at him as he arrived at a relative's flat in the Westland Road of Portadown.
In a remarkable coincidence, Fulton had telephoned Peter Robinson of the DUP only 24 hours earlier, claiming his life was in danger. PUP spokesperson David Ervine dismissed Fulton's allegation, saying the incident was stage-managed.
On Monday night, less than twelve hours prior to the Dougan killing, convicted drug dealer, Brendan Campbell was shot dead as he left a restaurant on the Lisburn Road. A lone gunman chased Campbell down nearby Brooklands Street, opening fire at close range. Campbell, who had survived an earlier gun attack, was dead on arrival at Belfast City Hospital.
A woman companion was also injured during the shooting. She was hit in the back and neck. Her condition has been described as ``stable.''
Expressing sympathy with the families of the latest people killed, Gerry Adams said the killings ``once again highlighted the reality that while there is a peace process there is not peace.''
Commenting on the RUC saturation of the Twinbrook estate following the death of Robert Dougan, local Sinn Féin Councillor, Paul Butler accused the RUC of ``felon setting'' by ``labelling three young men arrested in Twinbrook as `IRA suspects' and linking them to the Dunmurry killing.
``The reaction of the RUC to this killing stands in marked contrast to their lack of response to the killing of Catholics,'' said Butler. The three men, two of whom live in the estate, were badly beaten by the RUC.