Belfast Telegraph

Loyalist calls for new no-go areas for soldiers after murder bid

By Brian Rowan

A senior loyalist has warned that the whole peace process is being put in danger by "irresponsible" soldiers.

And Jackie McDonald now wants military chiefs to stipulate no-go areas for off-duty Army personnel.

The loyalist leader contacted this newspaper after a number of concerned taxi drivers approached the UDA-linked Ulster Political Research Group earlier this week.

And, a fortnight after the discovery of a dissident bomb plot in north Belfast, McDonald said going public "could save someone's life".

"If anything happens to some of these soldiers, there's going to be an outcry from the loyalist people to the paramilitaries. What are you going to do about this?" McDonald said.

"They're getting taxis from Palace Barracks to republican areas on a regular occurrence. This is coming from taxi drivers themselves. And they are saying to the soldiers, do you know where you're going here, do you know what sort of an area this is, and they're saying, we are all right."

But the planned attack by Oglaigh na hEireann in north Belfast at the turn of the year highlights the continuing threat.

This newspaper reported that the terror faction had three soldiers "under observation" before placing a booby-trap device inside one of their cars.

The visiting Scottish soldier, who had recently served in Afghanistan, was staying at his girlfriend's house in Ligoniel.

"I would be concerned because of recent dissident activity that these people [soldiers] are not only endangering themselves, they are endangering the whole peace process," McDonald continued.

McDonald now wants military chiefs to step in: "They [the soldiers] need to be ordered not to do it."

And he said "the danger of what should be no-go areas for army personnel" needs to be re-emphasised.

Now it is understood that the Army is taking steps to re-issue security advice to soldiers, including those visiting Northern Ireland.

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