Associated Press

July 11, 1994

BELFAST, Northern Ireland (AP) -- Gunmen assassinated a hard-line Protestant spokesman Monday and riddled a politician's home with bullets in attacks aimed at "loyalists" to British rule in Northern Ireland.

Coming on the eve of the most tension-filled date in the Northern Ireland calendar, the attacks seemed likely to incite Protestant retaliation against the province's Roman Catholic minority.

Each July 12, Protestants commemorate the 1690 Battle of the Boyne, when a Protestant army under King William III of England routed the Catholic forces of King James II in the Boyne River valley south of Belfast. Some 80,000 to 100,000 Protestants are expected to march throughout the province Tuesday.

The Irish Republican Army claimed responsibility for killing Ray Smallwoods, a former Ulster Defense Association member who often said he had left his violent past behind him. He was shot when he left his home in Lisburn, 12 miles southwest of Belfast.

Smallwoods, 44, served eight years in prison for his part in the attempted 1981 murder of Catholic civil rights activist Bernadette Devlin McAliskey. She and her husband were shot 10 times in their bed but survived.

Last year Smallwoods became leader the tiny Ulster Democratic Party, considered the legal mouthpiece for the outlawed UDA. The 10,000-member paramilitary organization frequently targets Catholics.

The slaying came a few hours after gunmen fired 20 to 40 bullets into the home of an outspoken loyalist in Britain's Parliament, the Rev. William McCrea. He was at his church, and his wife, two daughters and several guests escaped unhurt from the attack in Magherafelt, about 30 miles west of Belfast.

No group claimed responsibility.

Last month the Irish National Liberation Army, an IRA splinter group, killed three Protestants in Belfast. Loyalists retaliated by killing nine people, including six Catholics watching a World Cup soccer match in a pub.

More than 3,100 people have been slain since 1969.

Sinn Fein, the IRA's political ally, has dampened peace hopes by delaying a response to a British-Irish offer for talks. The two governments said Dec. 15 that Sinn Fein could join negotiations if the IRA first laid down its arms for good. Since then 48 people have been killed, a majority of them by Loyalists.