Protestant Church Leaders Denounce Attacks On Police
BELFAST, Northern Ireland (AP) _ Protestant church leaders on Friday denounced the campaign of violence against the Royal Ulster Constabulary, and authorities reported 13 new attacks on police officers’ homes and families.
In Dublin, Irish Prime Minister Garret FitzGerald denied reports he was ready to accept a slowdown in implementation of the Anglo-Irish accord to appease Ulster Protestants.
Protestants opposed to Dublin’s new consultative role in the British province under the Nov. 15 accord are blamed for 75 attacks since Monday on the Royal Ulster Constabulary.
Police reported attacks on the homes of 13 police in Belfast and in Portadown, County Armagh, on Thursday night but did not provide details.
Several suspects were detained for questioning and three men were arrested in Belfast after the seizure of a submachine gun and 2,000 rounds of ammunition in a Protestant area, police said.
Sir John Hermon, head of the constabulary, said Thursday he had ″irrefutable evidence″ that Protestant extremists planned to infiltrate a banned Protestant parade in Portadown 25 miles southwest of Belfast on Monday.
Hermon, speaking in a British Broadcasting Corp. television interview, said the extremists planned to confront Catholics, and to spread ″riots or worse″ to Belfast, Londonderry and other parts of the province.
The 75 attacks since Monday included firebombings and hurling of stones and other missiles at officers’ homes, and the wounding of a police reservist who was shot in the back.
The four Ulster-based bishops of the Anglican Church of Ireland issued a statement expressing ″total revulsion″ at the attacks.
″Actions such as these only add more emotional and spiritual pain to Northern Ireland, which for so many years has suffered so much terrorism and lawlessness,″ said the statement.
It was signed by Robin Eames, archbishop of Armagh and primate of all Ireland; Bishop Gordon McMullen of Down and Dromore; Bishop James Mehaffy of Derry, and Bishop William McCappin of Connor.
Another condemnation came from the Rt. Rev. Robert Dickinson, moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland - to which the majority of the province’s Protestants belong.
He said the anti-police violence was ″sinful and wrong and endangers the peace and safety of us all.″
″I believe what is happening is cruel, wrong and dangerous and can only further injure our land and our people,″ he added.
In Dublin, FitzGerald’s spokesman Peter Prendergast denied reports Thursday from unidentified Irish officials that the government would slow down on implementing the Anglo-Irish accord.
″On the contrary, there is a total determination to work the agreement,″ he added.
However, a senior government source who declined to be publicly identified said, ″There is an element of caution.″
Protestants outnumber Catholics 3-2 in Northern Ireland. The mostly Catholic Irish Republican Army, outlawed on both sides of the border, has been fighting to unite the province with the Irish Republic.