[Sinn Fein]

21st August 2002

SF leads delegation to meet US Consul General

Sinn Fein councillors Margaret McClenaghan and Eoin O'Broin today led a delegation of residents from Alliance Avenue to meet with US Consul General Bairbre Stevenson. The meeting was requested by Sinn Fein to highlight the ongoing loyalist campaign targeted at nationalists in Ardoyne and other areas of Belfast.

Speaking after the meeting Cllr McClenaghan said;

" Sinn Fein requested today's meeting in order to highlight the ongoing UDA campaign directed at the nationalist community in Ardoyne and other areas of Belfast. Since the announcement of the Loyalist 'no first strike' policy there have been more than 40 pipe bombings, 17 gun attacks and 77 other attacks. Almost half of these attacks have been concentrated in North Belfast. Last night saw the latest shooting in which a family on Alliance Avenue narrowly escaped injury or death.

" We felt that it was important for the US Consul General Bairbre Stevenson to hear first hand from residents about the reality for nationalists living on the interfaces. That reality is one of nightly attack with pipe bombs, blast bombs and gun attacks. Clearly the UDA is intent on killing people.

" Our message to Ms Stevenson was a simple one. The US Consulate must use their influence where possible to help bring this loyalist campaign to an end. We called on them to support the idea of outside monitors at the interfaces in order to provide independent verification of events on the ground. This would enable us to move away from the blame game and expose those responsible for the current violence.

" We also stressed that the present wave of violence could not and should not be presented as some form of 'tit-for-tat' campaign, but a cycle of violence instigated and orchestrated by the UDA with the intent of destabilising the entire political process.

" An invitation was extended to the US Consul General to come and visit the areas affected by the violence and see first hand the impact it is having on family and community life."

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