Violence, posturing mar N. Ireland peaceIn this story:
December 12, 1998
LONDONDERRY, Northern Ireland (CNN) -- Days after Northern Ireland leaders received the Nobel Peace Prize , tensions between Catholics and Protestants escalated into violence.
Catholic militants burned at least eight vehicles and threw gasoline bombs at police lines Saturday after angry Protestants marched down a restricted route through Londonderry.
Riot police clad in flak jackets, helmets and shields prevented the sides from directly contacting, and as a result came under attack from both sides. They arrested two Catholics and one Protestant but reported no serious injuries.
Earlier, some of the Protestant marchers clashed with police who prevented them from parading a second time into the central square of the predominantly Catholic city.
A commission appointed by the government to minimize trouble over Protestant marches ruled this week that the march could pass through the central square in the morning but not the afternoon.
When marchers passed in the morning, Catholic youths threw stones and bottles from a nearby street.
The march commemorates the start of the 1688-89 siege of Londonderry by the forces of King James II, a Catholic.
Meanwhile, the Sunday Times of London reported that the Irish Republican Army has appointed one of its staunchest opponents of disarmament, Brian Keenan, 56, as its new chief of staff, the most senior post.
The top two figures in the IRA's allied Sinn Fein party, Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness, were re-elected to the IRA's seven-member ruling Army Council at a secret meeting last weekend, the report also said.
McGuinness is liaison between the IRA and a Canadian-led commission that the peace accord empowered to seek the disarmament of the IRA and pro-British paramilitary groups by mid-2000.
On Friday the IRA reaffirmed its opposition to even a token gesture on disarmament.
The IRA called a cease-fire in July 1997 from its violent campaign to overthrow Northern Ireland as a Protestant-majority state linked with Britain. Before the truce, the conflict had taken 3,600 lives.
John Taylor, deputy leader of the Ulster Unionists, urged the government on Saturday to stop releasing IRA prisoners until the group agrees to start disarming under the peace accord.
Taylor also said the accord could be renegotiated to leave Sinn Fein out of a new Northern Ireland government.
Rejecting Taylor's call, McGuinness accused the Ulster Unionists of trying to renegotiate the peace accord ever since its adoption on Good Friday, April 10.
Northern Ireland's First Minister David Trimble stepped up demands for IRA disarmament on Saturday but said he was "fundamentally optimistic" about the future of the peace process.
Trimble, speaking in Stockholm after receiving the Nobel Peace Prize jointly with the province's Catholic leader John Hume, said that any future handover must be filmed for television.
"It is not just a question of a symbolic action with regard to handing in some weapons," Trimble said.
Trimble wants both Catholic nationalist and pro-British Protestant militias to disarm, with one requirement in particular: "Whatever is done, there has got to be a television camera there. The important thing is ... that the ordinary people can believe it" and see that it had actually happened.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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