Republican News · Thursday 26 February 1998

[An Phoblacht]

Bombs explode as peace talks falter

In a statement released to RTE in Dublin on Monday night 23 February, the IRA said, ``we reiterate that the complete cessation of military operations which began at midday on Sunday 20 July last year remains intact''.

The IRA statement was released within hours of a massive car bomb exploding in the centre of Portadown and three days after a 500lb bomb detonated late on Friday night in Moira, a small County Down town. In Belfast, Gerry Adams told reporters he was sure the IRA cessation remained in place, ``there is nothing to suggest to me that the IRA has breached its cessation,'' he said.

The Portadown bomb attack occurred at 11.59am when upwards of 500lbs of explosives packed into a BMW car detonated in Edward Street, near the town's RUC barracks. A 40 minute warning had been given and no one was injured as the bomb ripped through the town's commercial centre. A number of shops which took the brunt of the attack were destroyed while others were severely damaged by the blast and by subsequent fires.

Some of the buildings had only just been refurbished after an IRA bomb exploded in the North Armagh town in 1993.

The bomb which exploded in Moira on Friday night 20 February is estimated to have contained 500lbs of explosives. The bomb, carried to the scene in a jeep, was aimed at the town's RUC barracks and ripped through the building reducing it to ``a mangled wreck''. A 20 minute warning ensured evacuation of the target area. The explosion, which was heard 15 miles away, injured seven RUC members and four civilians. None of the injured were badly hurt.

Meanwhile the death of Lurgan Catholic Kevin Conway has prompted media speculation as to who abducted and shot dead the 30 year old father of four on Wednesday 18 February. Local Sinn Fein Councillor John O'Dowd was under no illusions. In a statement he said, ``I have made a number of inquiries surrounding the disappearance of Mr Conway. I am satisfied that loyalists are responsible for the killing. I am calling on RUC boss Flanagan to release the full facts surrounding who killed the Catholic father of four. The RUC boss is untypically hesitant to apportion blame in this as opposed to his eagerness in other recent killings.''

The RUC has refused to describe the killing as sectarian. Mr Conway, from Lurgan's Kilwilkie estate, was found bound hand and foot at Aghalee, a notorious area where loyalists have been active in recent years. A young Catholic girl Bernadette Martin and taxi driver Michael McGoldrick were both killed nearby.

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