Peace effort begins in Belfast

BELFAST, Northern Ireland, June 22 (UPI) -- Leaders in Northern Ireland began an effort Wednesday to defuse tension after three nights of rioting around a Catholic enclave in Belfast.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland blamed the Ulster Volunteer Force, a Protestant and loyalist militia, for starting the violence, The Irish Times reported. The trouble began Sunday around the Short Strand, a small Catholic neighborhood in predominantly Protestant East Belfast.


First Minister Peter Robinson of the Democratic Unionist Party and his deputy, Martin McGuinness of Sinn Fein, said a mediator had been named to reach out to both sides of the sectarian divide.

"The official has been asked to bring back a report promptly and make recommendations as to how problems in the area can be addressed. By working with local communities and agencies we want to ensure interface issues are tackled across Belfast," Robinson and McGuinness said.

The hurling of rocks and Molotov cocktails by masked men was a reminder of the three decades of violence that began in 1968. Three people were injured by gunfire, including a photographer for the Press Association who was allegedly shot by dissident republicans.


Much of the violence occurred along the "peace wall" between the Short Strand and the Newtownards neighborhood, one of many barriers erected during the Troubles to separate Catholics and Protestants.

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