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1 Killed, 2 Injured in N. Ireland Shootings

July 23, 2002|From Times Wire Services

BELFAST, Northern Ireland — A Protestant extremist shot a 19-year-old Catholic to death as he walked home from a Belfast pub early Monday, after a night of violence that saw two other men wounded in shootings.

The Ulster Defense Assn., Northern Ireland's biggest outlawed anti-Catholic group, claimed responsibility for several attacks, including 19-year-old Gerald Lawlor's killing, in a message that threatened further violence.

Lawlor left behind his parents, four brothers, a girlfriend and a toddler son--and a community wondering how to stop an upsurge in street violence.

"We're going back to the way it was back in the early '70s. My parents told me all about it," said Rory Stewart, one of several friends who gathered at the bouquet-covered street corner where Lawlor died.

Despite a summer of street turmoil, Lawlor's was the first fatal shooting in Belfast since January, when Protestant extremists killed a Catholic postman. That slaying inspired large-scale demonstrations supporting the British province's 1998 peace accord.

The UDA, which is supposed to be observing a truce in support of the peace pact, claimed its attacks represented "a measured military response" to attacks by the Irish Republican Army.

"We warn republicans that further attacks on our community will be met with further military action," the group said.

Before Lawlor was slain, a gunman shot a 30-year-old Catholic man in the leg. Protestants insisted that Catholic militants provoked the trouble. The first person shot Sunday night was 19-year-old Protestant Mark Blaney, who was attacked in a Catholic neighborhood.

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