January 6, 1998 in Nation/World

Paramilitary Group May Resume War

Compiled From Wire Services

Accused of random killings despite a cease-fire, the commanders of Northern Ireland’s largest pro-British paramilitary group admitted Monday they are debating “a return to war.”

The declaration came as rising violence threatened stalled peace talks on Northern Ireland’s political future.

During a funeral Monday for the latest victim, Roman Catholic Bishop Patrick Walsh appealed for an end to the political jockeying.

“Do not dispirit us with any further petty shows of rancor, bitterness, ill temper. There is so much at stake - lives are at stake,” Walsh implored at the funeral for a man shot to death by two masked gunmen as he sat beside his girlfriend in a north Belfast pub on New Year’s Eve. Five other Catholics were wounded in the attack claimed by Loyalist Volunteer Force, a renegade gang opposed to the peace talks.

The Loyalist Volunteers, who killed a Catholic at a rural hotel last week, said they were punishing Northern Ireland’s minority Catholics for the Dec. 27 assassination of its founder, Billy “King Rat” Wright.

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