Belfast Telegraph

Calls for calm as tensions simmer

By Rebecca Black

PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton and a leading member of the UDA have denied there is a full-blown feud in north Belfast.

However, the two have conceded the situation is extremely tense.

Mr Hamilton said it is not a loyalist feud like we have seen in the past, but admitted he was concerned about the escalating situation.

"There is a limited but still viable access to firearms and tension alongside that," he said.

"Those are always a dangerous set of ingredients to bring together into one place, but nor I am saying that it is a full-on feud as we have seen in the past."

Meanwhile, south Belfast UDA leader Jackie McDonald said he hoped John Bunting and John Howcroft will not be held by police for long for the sake of the local community in north Belfast.

"There has been a lot of serious incidents up in north Belfast," he told the Belfast Telegraph.

"It's not fair on the community. North Belfast has been through a hell of a lot over the years and it's a tragedy that this has got to the stage where elements within loyalism are causing the community problems."

Mr McDonald denied a UDA feud.

"It's not elements within the UDA as far as I know, it's a rogue element that is challenging the people who are trying to do a good job – and have been doing a good job for quite a few years now," he said.

"You'd think after what north Belfast has been through, they wouldn't have been able to make the progress that they have made. Apparently some people aren't happy with that."

North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds has called for calm.

"I condemn these attacks without reservation and without exception and I urge those responsible to bring them to an end," he said.

"These attacks are deeply damaging to the local communities.

And Sinn Féin MLA Carál Ní Chuilín described the shooting as a "worrying escalation of tensions".

"I'm calling for unionist leaders and community activists to make every effort to bring this cycle of violence to an end before someone is seriously injured or someone loses their life," she said.

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