Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Bomb Rips N. Ireland Hotel Three Injured; Ira Denies It Is Responsible

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Bomb Rips N. Ireland Hotel Three Injured; Ira Denies It Is Responsible

Article excerpt

A car bomb ravaged a country hotel Sunday soon after it was evacuated, knocking hotel guests to the pavement and capping a week of rioting that threatens Northern Ireland's uneasy peace.

The bomb, the first in Northern Ireland since 1994, crowned the worst week of rioting seen in a generation.

There have been bombs on the British mainland, and even at a British barracks in Germany, over the past few months, but until now no comparable attack in Northern Ireland itself, where 3,201 people died in sectarian violence between 1969 and 1994.

In a terse statement to state television and radio in the Irish Republic, the Irish Republican Army denied responsibility for the hotel bomb.

The IRA statement to the media was preceded by a code word for authe ntication. The code word apparently was not used in warning calls that a police spokesman said were made to the hotel.

A few hours before the blast, the IRA had appealed for calm and called upon its adherents to stay clear of street disturbances.

The IRA denial was received skeptically by Protestant unionists, who want to stay part of Great Britain.

"IRA denials are not water-tight," said David Trimble, head of the Ulster Unionists, the largest Protestant political party.

Suggesting that agents provocateurs from a Protestant extremist group or government security forces could be responsible for the bombing, Gerry Adams, head of Sinn Fein, the political arm of the IRA, said he was "immensely suspicious as to the real authors." The effect of the blast would be to deflect criticism from the government's handling of recent disturbances, he said.

Violence erupted July 7 just outside Portadown, 30 miles from Belfast, when police blocked members of the Orange Order, Northern Ireland's dominant Protestant fraternal group, from marching through a Catholic part of Portadown.

The Orangemen stood their ground, and militant Protestants subjected Northern Ireland to four days of rioting.

Since Thursday, when police yielded to the Orangemen and allowed the march through the Catholic area, Catholic fury has spilled onto the streets.

Police and soldiers spent a third night Saturday repelling mobs of Catholics who hurled gasoline bombs, bricks and stones in Belfast and Londonderry, where Northern Ireland's "troubles" began with similar scenes in 1969. …

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